See you at SiGMA – all the more important since the UKGC CEO’s speech in Malta yesterday

The agenda in the highly topical and very well-attended Safeguarding Standards conference (that we co-hosted with Valletta-based boutique law firm City Legal in Malta earlier this month) was dominated by the same gambling sector issues – AML, affordability, social responsibility/customer interactions, responsible gambling – that featured in yesterday’s ARQ Gaming Compliance Forum in Malta.

The keynote speaker at yesterday’s conference was Neil McArthur, CEO of the UK’s Gambling Commission who delivered a speech entitled “Raising Standards: Our Priorities, Your Opportunities”, that can be downloaded below.

The following passage from within his speech emphasises just why the UKGC has been focusing its regulatory microscope on UK licensed gambling operators based in Malta:

Last year we undertook a massive piece of thematic work, involving 123 online casino operators (out of total 189 (~1,700 urls) who are licensed) to look at compliance standards.

Following that compliance work:

  • 45 online casino operators were told to submit an action plan to raise standards
  • A further 14 online casino operators were the subject of enforcement investigations, following which:
    • 7 operators paid £18million in penalty packages
    • 5 operators surrendered their licences
    • 3 PMLs surrendered licence

Other investigations are continuing.

It’s disappointing to note that currently, 24 of the 45 operators who had to submit action plans are based here [i.e. Malta]. The same is true for 5 of the 7 operators who had to pay penalties and 3 of those which surrendered licences.

David Clifton and Suzanne Davies will be attending SiGMA in Malta between 27 and 29 November, so do please contact us:

if you wish to meet with us there to discuss how we might be able to assist your business in relation to any aspect of (a) those very same key topics described above or (b) what Neil McArthur describes in his speech as three “opportunities to collaborate”, namely:

  1. production of an effective Industry Code for Game Design that will set out:
    • the techniques that the industry plans to use when designing apps and online games,
    • the risk associated with each product and how they can be mitigated and
    • a clear explanation of what is not acceptable
  2. development of a code of conduct in relation to operators’ treatment of VIPs and associated inducements to gamble (following a warning given by McArthur in an earlier speech this month that “if the industry cannot or will not drive improvements in this area, we will need to explore the use of all our tools to encourage or mandate changes in the interests of consumer protection”) – a topic on which David Clifton is speaking in a GamblingCompliance webinar entitled “How can gambling operators responsibly manage VIPs?” on 12 November 2019 at 2pm GMT, and
  3. formulation of a plan setting out new standards for how industry will:
    • better use technology to minimise the risk of exposure of gambling advertising content to children, young people and vulnerable adults and
    • embrace ad-tech for social responsibility purposes – actively targeting away from vulnerable audiences.

Not only is the UKGC expecting significant progress in the above respects to have been made by April of next year, but in yesterday’s speech, it was made clear that the need to raise standards is also shared by the Malta Gaming Authority. You have been warned!

Whether you are a UK licensed operator located in Malta or elsewhere, if you want to get ahead of the game, get in touch with us.


  1. Our comments in the penultimate paragraph above were quoted by iGaming Times in a subsequent article entitled “UK Gambling Commission warns Malta-based operators to raise standards” (that you can download below)
  2. An article by David Clifton on this same subject (entitled “Standards, priorities, opportunities”) has been:
    1. published by US-based CDC Gaming Reports as part of its regular Tottenham Report feature and
    2. re-published on our website here.