Player Protection

The following is a summary with key points of the latest Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) regulations regarding player protection which were published in August 2018. It’s a bit of a read however worth noting to what degree serious online gaming jurisdictions take player protection. Please note that this is not the full document, only a summary – and while we tried our best to be as accurate as possible we take no liability on the accuracy of the information.

Player Protection Directive Online Gaming – Summarised (Key Points)

The MGA is setting up an online ‘Unified Self-Barring Database’ which will be accessible to all Maltese licensed companies. Any customer who self-bars themselves from an online gaming company will have their details inputted into this database. Subsequently, whenever a customer opens an account with a Maltese registered online gaming company, their details have to be checked against the ‘Unified Self-Barring Database’ and should the player be on this list the online gaming company will not allow the customer to open an account.

 

Disclosure requirements

The following information needs to be displayed prominently on the homepage of the website and accessible from all pages on the website:

– The licensee details, and the fact that the licensee can be contacted

– A sign showing that underage gambling is not permissible

– A responsible gaming message providing the following:

1) Information that gaming can be harmful if not controlled

2) Information about player support measures on the website

The MGA licensed online gaming company must display the fact that they are licensed by the MGA that is visible to players with a ‘seal’ or ‘kite mark’ – a clear distinction of which games are licensed by the MGA or not. This applies to application software too.

There must be a link on the online gaming company’s homepage to one or more organisations that help people who have problem gambling issues.

 

Terms and Conditions

All content that refers to the Player Protection Directive needs to be in English and all the languages that are used on the online gaming company’s website.

None of the Terms of promotional schemes are unfair in relation to the Consumer Affairs act.

Terms and Conditions must be accessible to players at all times including before registration. They can’t be more than one click away from the homepage or the game activity to which they refer to.

If there is a change to any Terms and Conditions, players have to accept them before they take place. This refers to any changes of: the rights or obligations of the player, the powers/liability of the license, the player’s chance of winning a game, the change of a structure of a game, the termination or discontinuation of a progressive jackpot, the wagering of funds or player’s personal data. Players are allowed to withdraw their balance according to the original Terms and Conditions that they had agreed to. The licensee must also provide clear details as to which Terms and Conditions are changing before the player decides whether to agree to them or not. The changes to the Terms and Conditions need to be notified to the MGA within 30 days from the date which they were notified to the player.

The Terms and Conditions must include a version number and the date that they were last updated and the registered name and address of the licensee and a reference to the license held with the MGA.

Only one version of the General Terms and Conditions applicable to the gaming service licensed by the MGA is allowed at a time.

It needs to be clear to the player that if there is a case of conflict of translations of the Terms and Conditions which version will prevail.

Rules of games which are offered should be readily available to players no more than one click away from the game that they are playing.

Any form of commission of fee to be held by the licensee or charged to the player needs to be informed to the customer and information pertaining to this needs to be readily available to players at all times. Such information must be clearly stated including the amount of fee or commission to be charged. This information needs to be in the Terms and Conditions and in the deposit and withdrawal page.

 

Responsible Gaming

Information to help players determine whether they may have a gambling problem must be readily available to players.

A procedure needs to be in place where a player, at any given time, can exclude themselves from playing for an indefinite or definite period of time.

Any player exclusions are for all the games or products that a license holder offers across all the website domians that the company owns.

The online gaming company may not try to induce a player who what self-excluded to restart gambling again with the company.

The self-exclusion procedure must be as simple as possible.

 

Limits

Licensed companies must offer players the option to set the following limits on their accounts:

– Deposit limits (for a period of time)

– Wagering Limits (bonuses are not taken into account here)

Players should be asked about deposit limits either upon registration or immediately after registration on login to the player account in an easily accessible manner.

Licensed companies can also offer the possibility to set additional limits including ‘Loss limits’ and ‘Time or session limits’.

Any limit implemented must be for all the games offered by the licensee across all the websites offered by the licensee.

A notice by the player asking to remove or change limits to being less stringent can only happen after a period of 24 hours after the request is made.

 

Player Activity + Support

When a license holder is offering games using a random number generator, the player should be offered the possibility of requesting an alert at certain intervals of time. The alert will suspend gameplay and offer the availability of statistics of: the amount of time that the player has been playing, the players winnings and losses during that period, a confirmation that the player has read the message and the option for the player to return to the game or end the session.

The license holder must make sure that the following information is readily available and easily accessible to the player: the player’s balance and currency (which should be displayed on screen at all times during a game), the ability to access player history of the last 6 months (including total deposits, withdrawals, win/losses and net position), responsible gaming forms/links.

When playing a ‘full screen game’ players must have access to a full-screen clock and the ability to exit the game at any time.

The online gaming company must keep a readily available copy of the player’s gambling history.

The online gaming company must have measures to detect problem gambling, using analytical tools and/or behavioural monitoring systems with staff trained on detection of problem gambling. Once identified, the company is required to take measures to prevent further harm to the player.

The online gaming company needs to have policies and procedures in place relating to player interaction where they have concerns that a player’s behaviour shows signs of problem gambling. These include:

– Indication of which employees who are to initiate player interaction

– Examples of behaviour that would raise concern in respect of problem gambling issues

– Guidelines as to in what situations a player would be barred from registering/playing/or refused service

– The procedure of interaction with a problem gambler including self-exclusion options

A record must be kept of all player interactions.

 

Return to Player

Games that use a random number generator’s average payout across all games must be at least 92% over the period of 1 calendar year. It is the online gaming companies responsibility to ensure it has system in place to monitor the average percentage payout (this can be done by an approved B2B company).

The MGA may require a licensee to submit a certificate issued from a testing lab clarifying compliance with this directive.

The MGA may:

– perform an audit check, inspection or monitoring of the licensee

– Request a report from the licensee of the average percentage return to players as prizes over a period of time

– Request any other information or conduct tests as necessary

The MGA will be empowered to remove or withdraw the offering of any game should the game in question not be compliant.

 

Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons

Policies and procedures should be in place to prevent minors from opening an account with an online gaming company or using their service.

Players have to confirm that they are of legal age before being able to open an account.

If the online company is aware that a minor is in access of an account, the company shall take all necessary steps to prevent the minor from making further use of its gaming services and return to the minor any monies wagered and confiscating all winnings, if any.

No credit can be offered to any player.

 

Protection of Player Funds

All licensees must report on player funds as in accordance within the Authorisations and Compliance Directive.

A player requesting a withdrawal, should receive their funds within 5 working days and the return of funds should go directly to the account that it was originating from.

The 5 working day period to return player funds ensures enough time to:

– Verify the players identity

– Conduct any security or internal procedures

– Ensure the rules relating to the game and the award of the prize has been compiled by the said player

– Perform any customer due diligence measures required in terms of AML or any other regulatory instrument.

A licensee should not impose unreasonable withdrawal restrictions in regards to being able to withdraw the total amount of sum owed to the player.

Licensees shall not attempt to encourage players in any way to cancel a withdrawal request.

Any withdrawal restrictions should be clearly detailed on any webpage when the customer withdraws or deposits funds.

The online gaming company reserves the right to delay payment should they perform measures necessary in terms of AML legislation and for the prevention of fraud and other criminal activity.

Player funds must be held in a licensed credit, financial and, or payment institution which is either licensed in Malta or licensed within the EU/EEA or other approved jurisdictions. Not all players funds have to be held in one account.

Should a licensee be in possession of an additional gaming license from another jurisdiction, funds can be held in the same ‘player funds account’ provided that:

– The licensee can prove that there are sufficient funds to meet player liability

– The licensee can produce information relating to the activity of the other funds

– The licensee ensures that the MGA remains in a position to exercise viewing rights of player funds

– The MGA is satisfied that the licensee can cover all liabilities under all licenses granted.

Any fees charged by the online gaming company must be in line with the licensee’s approved terms and conditions and are fair and clear to the customer.

 

Complaints and Disputes

Online gaming companies must maintain a player support function with sufficient resources to efficiently, competently and effectively interact with players across email and telephone at minimum.

Licensees must have a written procedure for handling player complaints and disputes which should be in the Terms and Conditions and readily available for customer viewing.

There should be a dispute procedure with a registered ADR entity.

 

Visit our homepage at melabet.com for more online gambling information in particular in regards to Sportsbetting.