LGA slates ‘unnecessary concerns' and ‘mere speculation'
It would appear that it takes a substantial amount of publicity to wring a comment from the Malta online gambling regulator, the LGA. After widespread news coverage on a reported provision in Malta law concerning gambling debts being unenforceable, the LGA ignored requests for comment, but last week published a clarification on its website.
Characterising the genuine fears of players regarding the law as the media creation of ‘unnecessary concerns' and ‘mere speculation', the regulator said in its website statement:
"This Public Notice is being issued in order to clarify a legal issue which has been circulating various blogs and news headlines in relation to Player Winnings and Gaming Debts.
"Kindly note that the provisions being invoked in relation to Gaming Debts, are extracts from the Civil Code, refer to Chapter 16 of the Laws of Malta (refer to articles 1713-1717A) which are not applicable to Games which are authorised/licensed under the Gaming Act, Chapter 400 of the Laws of Malta (refer to article 34) and to Games authorised/licensed under the Lotteries and Other Games Act, Chapter 438 of the Laws of Malta (refer to articles 48 and 49) and the Regulations issued there under, which include the Remote Gaming Regulations.
"The Lotteries and Gaming Authority's interpretation is that the Civil Code articles above captioned are applicable to gaming debts arising out of unauthorised/unlicensed games, which in any case are considered as illegal and tantamount to a criminal offence."
Translation: gambling debts are enforceable in Malta provided the gambling establishment concerned is licensed by the LGA.
The issue arose from a complaint made to the LGA by an online player, who claimed that Casino Club.com had wrongfully deprived him of a Euro 167 500 progressive jackpot that he had won whilst a member in good standing. The LGA found in favour of the casino, but its reasoning has not been made public.
The regulator has not responded to media enquiries as to its finding, and on what grounds, and the website notice makes no reference to the controversial ruling.
The player is presently engaged with a Malta lawyer to pursue the issue further.
The LGA notice can be found here: http://www.lga.org.mt/lga/content.aspx?id=229374