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Online Gambling Law: Why Is Online Gambling Regulation Important?

There is no one gambling regulation for Europe; there are European countries with permitted online gambling, as for example Denmark, Malta, Estonia, Bulgaria. There are also countries, where gambling is permitted, by monopolised by state-owned companies, and it is a Finnish legal model.

There are also usually many differences in regulation of different online-casino plays – for example, the country may accept poker, roulette, slots, any types of betting, but be very strict regarding legislation of lotteries, so as Spain does.

All Spain lotteries are provided only by the local Spain operators. The online gambling law in the United Kingdom also has its distinctive features – under the Gambling Act of 2014, all operators providing gambling services to people from the United Kingdom must be licensed by the local Gambling Commission.

So, many countries all over the world do have their own licenses. You also may live in London, but play in an online casino, which is registered and licensed in another country. But why is it so important for a country to have its own gambling law?

Online Casino Licenses: An Overview

As fraudulent and criminal activities became more frequent as a large number of online gambling websites started to emerge, there was an urgent need for legal measures to be established. To obtain an online gambling license from a certain country, the online casino must pay a lot of money and fulfill many prescriptions.

The most popular European organisations, which give online casino licenses, are the Curacao Gaming Commission, the Government of Gibraltar, and the Lotteries and Gaming Authority in Malta. For example, an online gambling provider Playamo with its different online slots, has a licence of the Curacao Gaming commission. N.V., einem nach den.

How To Obtain An Online Gambling License From The Curacao Gaming Commission And The Government Of Gibraltar?

To understand the process of obtaining a license better, let’s take a look at the concrete procedure. For example, you want to establish an online casino and obtain a gambling license from Curacao. To do it, you will first need to establish a local limited liability company according to all the local legal measures. So, your company must be registered in Curacao and in the local chamber of commerce.

To register your online casino in the chamber of commerce you will need to provide domain ownership, provide a technical audit of each gaming system including software, so as to think about certification of your software. And the whole procedure will approximately last 3 months and cost you more than 14000 Euro. Anyway, the costs may vary depending on the type of gambling, your software, etc.

If you would like to obtain a license from Gibraltar, then you will also need to think about registering your online casino in Gibraltar, providing business, and investment plans to the Government, inspecting your software, etc. You will also need to have open bank accounts in Gibraltar and pay more than 35000 Euros for obtaining a license.

Regulated Vs. Unregulated Online Gambling

But why is it so important to regulate online gambling? Unregulated online gambling leads to what no one wants: anyone can run an online casino without worrying about standards and rules or being licensed. Unlicensed casinos are prohibited to provide games, and it can even be very dangerous to play in them. So, we will recommend you decide on the casinos, which are officially licensed.

Now, when you know how to make your gaming more secure – if you want to try an online casino, this is the right time.

GVZH Advocates appoints new Partners

Dr Luca Vella and Dr Kurt Hyzler have been admitted as Partners of GVZH Advocates within the firm’s Corporate, Mergers and Acquisitions, Capital Markets, Banking and Finance and Financial Services Industry practice groups.

Luca Vella’s practice focuses primarily around corporate and commercial law, mergers and acquisitions and capital markets, and he has been involved in advising and structuring of numerous bond issues that have been brought to the market by various issuers over the past years. Kurt Hyzler handles mergers and acquisitions, banking and finance transactions and advises a wide spectrum of operators in the financial services industry in Malta. Both Luca and Kurt hold a Masters degree from the University of London.

Commenting on this development within the firm, Dr Andrew J Zammit, Managing Partner of GVZH Advocates said: “These new promotions reflect the firm’s commitment towards a transparent and merit-based career path for professionals that apply themselves to become recognised as leaders in their respective fields. The firm has undergone significant reorganisation initiatives aimed at creating clusters of technical expertise without obstructing clear communication lines across practice groups, and the absorption of new partners within this new organisation structure is meaningful in continuing to drive forward with the implementation of these changes. The addition of Luca and Kurt to the partnership, with their collective energy and enthusiasm, is a welcome development which recognises the tremendous value that they have added to the firm and its clients over the years, enabling them to take a more active role in leading and developing their teams further to support the firm’s exponential growth over the past years.”

About GVZH Advocates

GVZH Advocates is a leading law firm composed of top-tier professionals and firmly established in the Maltese legal landscape, built on the values of acumen, integrity and clarity. The firm is composed of 36 legal, tax, compliance and accounting professionals and 20 support staff, and also incorporates GVZH Trustees Limited, a company licensed by the MFSA to act as trustee and co-trustee, and as administrator of private foundations.

The lawyers within the firm handle a wide range of technical research projects, transactions and disputes – varying in size and complexity – servicing clients which include local family-owned businesses, listed multi-national companies doing business in Malta, and global law firms seeking expertise on points of Maltese law.

If you would like to get more information, please visit https://www.gvzh.com.mt/

Malta becomes first Blockchain Island following new Regulation

On 4 July 2018, Malta officially passed three bills into law which establishes it as one of the first countries to enact a regulatory framework for blockchain technologies and cryptocurrency. While other nations have decided to wait for a tried-and-tested legal framework to base their regulations on, Malta has pioneered legislation into the industry to make them the biggest name in blockchain and cryptocurrency technology. As shown by the new laws, this move has been made to make Malta a hotspot for the industry. It is a huge move from the small nation, earning it the title of the ‘World’s First Blockchain Island,’ and it is expected to have many repercussions in Malta and across the world.

A new age is dawning

Bitcoin, the world’s first cryptocurrency, found recognition among the general public in the second half of 2017 when its price ascended rapidly from close to $1000 to over $19,000. However, people have known of the cryptocurrency for a long time; and while some may not have bought into the ideology of a decentralised digital currency, experts saw the potential buried in Bitcoin’s foundations.

The blockchain, which is a public transaction ledger that is managed by a peer-to-peer network, records everything that happens in the Bitcoin network and stores the records in a way that cannot be copied or altered. It was built to stop the possibility of double-spending the cryptocurrency, and it also built unequivocal trust within the network without the need for a central authority. Blockchain technology may have first been used for Bitcoin, but its applications are far spreading beyond cryptocurrencies. It could allow the media industries to limit a single copy of a song or movie to a single purchaser, or be used in all forms of business in the form of Etherium’s self-executing contracts. If it is allowed to, blockchain technology could change the way that day-to-day activities are performed. But to do that, companies in the industry will need assurances.

Malta steps forth to inspire blockchain advances

Malta made history with the three bills that it enacted as the regulatory framework for cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies, becoming the first world jurisdiction to provide the industry with legal certainty. Other jurisdictions have passed laws on cryptocurrencies and blockchains, but Malta’s regulations are the most detailed and comprehensive, delivering true certainty. The EU member has been keen to innovate and govern online industries, with the Maltese Gaming Authority being one of the most trusted regulators in the online gaming industry. Now, Malta has become a regulated haven for companies in the industry.

The primary purposes of the three bills are three-fold: to provide legal certainty for the first time in the industry; to support the growth of the increasingly important industry; to guide the government on how to embrace blockchain and cryptocurrency technology and forge Malta into an industry hotspot.

Now in power and governing the industry’s actions in Malta are the Innovative Technology Arrangement and Services Act (ITAS), the Malta Digital Innovation Authority Act (MDIA), and the Virtual Financial Assets Act (VFA). Herein, blockchain technology is referred to as distributed ledger technology (DLT), while a cryptocurrency is termed as a DLT asset. The purposes of each bill are as follows:

  1. ITAS: Primarily concerns the establishment of exchanges and companies based within the cryptocurrency market. It details the registration and certification of DLTs and provides technological arrangements for companies.
  2. MDIA: This bill establishes the MDIA as the regulatory body and formalises the internal regulatory procedures for the industry. As the regulator, the MDIA is also tasked with providing legal certainty to potential DLT platform users.
  3. VFA: The third bill regulates initial coin offerings, forcing new companies seeking to raise capital through an ICO to publish detailed white papers and make their financial history public. The VFA also governs cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet providers.

The three bills have been brought in by Malta to allow a safe place for the industry to grow, but they also ensure that potential users are protected under the new laws. The new legislation prohibits market manipulation, insider trading, and misleading white papers. ICOs in the industry have been accused of such foul play in the past, so Malta has decided to prohibit it without question. A person found guilty of such offences can face: a fine of up to $15,000,000 or three-times the losses avoided or profits made due to committing the offence, whichever is greater; incarceration for a term of up to six years; or suffer imprisonment and a fine. These staunch punishments will help Malta to legitimise the industry while also nurturing it as it grows to meet its immense potential.

The impact on Malta and the rest of the world

The desire to create the bills first was to help present Malta as a blockchain hotspot: the nation is already bearing the fruits of its bravery. Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, has already opened up an office in Malta, and OKEx has also followed suit. The Maltese government has investigated various ways to implement blockchain technology into public services, while the MGA sees the technology as a way to regulate online gaming services looking to accept cryptocurrency payments. They also plan to explore its applications alongside games, as it could provide transparency by proving the fairness of games via operators’ use of DLT.

Malta’s new regulations could also work as the much-desired framework for legislation in other nations. In the USA, investors have encountered frustration when trying to invest in certain ICOs, due to government accreditation being required for ICOs that offer securities. Malta’s VFA can assist with this issue as The Financial Instrument Test within the VFA details a three-step method to decipher whether an ICO’s asset could be deemed a virtual token.

Malta has opened as the world’s first regulated jurisdiction for blockchain and cryptocurrency technology. The favourable and clear-cut legislation will attract many of the biggest names in the industry to the island nation which will, in turn, provide a haven for the potentially world-changing industry to develop.

The lack of legal action has created uncertainty

Blockchain is being hailed as the greatest invention since the internet. Despite this, there is a great deal of variance in the regulation of the technology across the world. In the United States of America, blockchain technology has been mentioned as potentially being able to change how security is upheld during transactions online. Despite this, the US federal government has left the states to their own devices for regulating blockchain technology, which has resulted in at least eight states working on bills to accept or promote the use of the blockchain technology or the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, as of 2017.

In Europe, there is a more positive, active, and welcoming approach being taken to regulating blockchains and cryptocurrencies. Earlier in 2018, the European Commission revealed its planned vehicle to exchange expertise for the launch of blockchain applications across the European Union, known as the European Blockchain Partnership.

The issues that many jurisdictions have encountered when seeking to regulate the industry are defining the uses of blockchain, understanding what cryptocurrencies and blockchains are, and the willingness to commit and give the technology a stamp of approval. The industry has also come under scrutiny concerning the legality of cryptocurrencies. Some have disputed that cryptocurrency does not constitute legal tender, which brings about a lot of uncertainty in many areas of the world for the companies.

In research committed by Malta, one of the main concerns brought up by those in the industry was the legal uncertainty in many jurisdictions and the fear that their activities could be deemed unlawful at any time. The serious operators sought legal certainty above all else.

The Evolving World of Distributed Ledger Technology Regulations

A ledger is a book or collection of accounts in which account transactions are recorded. Each account has an opening or carry-forward balance, and would record each transaction as either a debit or credit in separate columns, and the ending or closing balance.

There are two primary reasons behind the governments around the world being rather coy about establishing legally binding regulations for distributed ledger technology and the resulting debate as to the legitimacy of such regulations: a lack of knowledge concerning the function, application, and potential of the new industry; the perception that regulations negate the goals of the blockchain.

Many governing bodies have taken the ‘wait and see’ approach to distributed ledger technology, allowing more data to be revealed before they fully analyse what needs to be regulated and how they will go about applying regulation. However, this has left the affected businesses in a state of limbo, not knowing if they are acting illegally, or if their activities will soon be deemed illegal, in certain countries where the topic is debated but not regulated.

The problem for many blockchain purists with the regulation of distributed ledger technology is that it contradicts the original purpose of the technology. The Bitcoin blockchain was designed and implemented to be self-governing and eradicate the need for government control and regulations, leaving hesitance within the community to submit themselves to laws and regulations enacted.

Creating the legal framework and regulations for distributed ledger technology presents many unique challenges, including establishing accountability; the application of contract law to smart contracts; the area of regulation; and the security of personal data in the case that blockchains can be decrypted in the future. Due to the rapid growth and application of the still budding technology, there has not been enough time to see all of the main issues emerge.

On the 11th of May 2017, members of the European Parliament met to discuss the future of blockchain regulation and if governments should begin to intervene. Due to the lack of clarity as to the consequences of the new technology, possible issues that may arise, and a need for it to have the freedom to develop, governments quelled their desire to apply regulation.

Malta becomes first Blockchain Island

Malta made history by enacting regulatory bills concerning distributed ledger technology, blockchain-based businesses, cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings, and blockchain-based service providers. The Maltese Parliament brought three laws into power in order to establish a governing body, create a system of registration and certification of distributed ledger technologies, and to regulate initial coin offerings.

The Malta Digital Innovation Authority Act established the Malta Digital Innovation Authority as the governing body to support the development and implementation of the guiding principles described in the Act and to promote consistent principles for the development of visions, skills, and other qualities relating to technology innovation, including distributed or decentralised technology, and to exercise regulatory functions regarding innovative technology, arrangements and related services and to make provision with respect to matters ancillary thereto. The primary aim of the MDIA is to promote the new technology and its innovations by developing and implementing key guiding principles. Regarding the regulation of such technologies, the Innovative Technology Arrangements and Services Act provides the MDIA with its regulatory functions, which includes providing technological arrangements for distributed ledger technology companies, as well as, the methods of certification and registration of such companies. The Virtual Financial Assets Act governs cryptocurrency wallets, cryptocurrency exchanges, and lays out clear criteria regarding the requirements for an initial coin offering.

The three acts established by Malta created the benchmark for governing bodies all over the world to follow, allowing for the expression of innovation while presenting clear regulations for the use of the developing technology. Many companies utilising distributed ledger technology were seeking legal clarification, which made Malta’s newly established regulations very desirable. Soon after the bills were enacted, a slew of high-profile companies announced their move to Malta. Binance is one such example, which opted to escape Asia’s purge on virtual currencies and move to the more open-minded regulations of the European island nation. Other cryptocurrency exchanges including OKEx and ZBX have followed suit.

Malta’s desire to adopt and grow the distributed ledger technology industry was demonstrated by their willingness to establish themselves as the ‘Blockchain Island’ in July 2018. However, the nation has surpassed this creation of the legal framework, with its other authorities integrating blockchain-friendly regulations into their respective industries. In March 2018, it was reported that the Malta Gaming Authority aimed to create a licensing system for game developers seeking to accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment, establish a method of calculating exchange rates, and the use of digital currency wallets with games. To do this, the Authority was to engineer a sandbox testing environment to allow game developers to see if their games were in line with their new regulations of the use of cryptocurrencies.

Other distributed ledger technology authorities emerging

Malta made headlines by becoming the first official regulator of distributed ledger technology to forge the ‘Blockchain Island’. In December 2017, Gibraltar, announced its intention to launch the world’s first licensing procedure and regulations structure for firms using the new technology. On the 1st of January 2018, the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission was established to be the nation’s authority on distributed ledger technology, applying to all businesses using the technology in or from Gibraltar. On the 17th of October 2018, leading Bitcoin exchange Coinfloor became fully compliant with the regulations of the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission, meeting the standards required by their nine regulatory principles.

The European Parliament has recently begun to move towards establishing regulations for distributed ledger technologies by publishing a non-binding resolution. The resolution details an innovation-friendly approach to the new technology, and that instead of regulating the technology, the European Union should remove barriers currently restricting the implementation of distributed ledgers. A focus of any regulation to come from European Parliament will be towards standing European Union legislation, specifically the General Data Protection Regulation, with the composition and process of current distributed ledger technology and blockchains seemingly making it difficult for someone to have their personal data and records removed.

They stand by their previous comments concerning a lack of understanding as to the potential problems that can be associated with the technology, and so they will require more time to establish measures to counter the major issues that may arise. It is apparent that general understanding of the technology needs to be improved through the education of relevant parties and that doing so could help the European Union to become a world leader in the field of distributed ledger technology: a route that European Parliament intends to pursue. Resolutions set out by the European Parliament are often used as a tool to express intent to create regulations, but resolutions are not legally binding.

The Technicalities of DLT Sandbox Framework

The nation of Malta has led the way with its blockchain regulations and has encouraged its other major authorities to embrace the technology. The Malta Gaming Authority is a leading regulator of online and landbased gambling and has recently published its guidelines to move towards accepting virtual financial assets and distributed ledger technology within the gaming industry.

The Malta Gaming Authority announced in March 2018 that they would be creating methods of welcoming distributed ledger technology and cryptocurrencies into the gaming industry. They announced that a licensing system would be established alongside methods of using wallets of digital currency at gaming websites and a way of calculating exchange rates. It was at this time that the Malta Gaming Authority announced their plans to create a sandbox testing environment in which developers could test their games to see if they are in line with the upcoming regulations of the Malta Gaming Authority.

In October 2018, the Malta Gaming Authority released its guidelines for the framework that they had created to assist the budding technology in the gaming industry.

The Malta Gaming Authority releases its sandbox framework

The announcement detailed the two phases of the framework. Phase one is set to commence on the 1st of January 2019, at which point the Malta Gaming Authority will be accepting applications from bodies within the gaming industry looking to allow the use of virtual financial assets and virtual tokens as a means of payment. In phase two, their framework will be extended to allow for applications from those looking to use innovative technology arrangements, such as distributed ledger technology, within the key technical equipment of licensees: this is to coincide with further developments made by the established Malta Digital Innovation Authority. The Malta Gaming Authority is expecting the sandbox framework to continue until October 2019, but the paper is to be considered as a live document so that the regulatory requirements initially envisioned can be changed to adapt to technological and regulatory developments if necessary.

Even if an applicant fully complies with the Maltese blockchain legislation, they must still obtain a license from the MFSA before being granted access to the sandbox framework. Furthermore, applicants can apply for the inclusion of their testnet within the sandbox framework should their live environment go live within the three months following their approval by the Malta Gaming Authority.

The Malta Gaming Authority have established criteria as to how to define virtual assets and the steps required to use assets from distributed ledger technology. Prior to the involvement of the Malta Gaming Authority, an operator shall need to undergo a Financial Instrument Test that is issued by the Malta Financial Services Authority to be able to determine the nature of the distributed ledger technology asset, be it a virtual financial asset or a virtual token. Once this has been established, the operator shall submit the Malta Financial Service Authority’s findings with other appropriate documentation to the Malta Gaming Authority as a stage of the application process to be approved for the sandbox.

Regulating the use of virtual financial assets

If the asset is deemed to be a virtual financial asset, it adheres to established statutes of Maltese law. Operators can then use virtual financial assets that are overseen by the Malta Financial Services Authority in accordance with the Virtual Financial Assets Act. Those deemed to be financial instruments, per the Investment Services Act, or electronic money, per the Financial Institutions Act, can only be accepted as a method of payment if they are specifically approved by the Malta Gaming Authority, which shall be decided on a case-by-case basis at the Authority’s discretion.

When users sign-up to gaming websites with the intent to use virtual financial assets, only wallet addresses that are specifically tied to the individual will be permitted within the gaming ecosystem. Once the wallet has been recognised, for a deposit of virtual financial assets to be successful, the operator must verify the individual’s details and their wallet. Once verification is complete, players receive their gaming funds. Withdrawals can only be performed to verified wallets, and if a pending transaction does not match the player’s verified wallet address, funds will be returned to their point of origin or shall be frozen.

The operator must clearly identify and forewarn all players to withdrawal and deposit transaction fees should these exist on their platform. Within the operator’s ecosystem, virtual financial assets and fiat currencies shall be treated as separate entities, with an exchange between the two not permitted. For the sandbox framework, the exchange rate applied shall adhere to that of the virtual financial asset exchange declared to the Malta Gaming Authority by the operator. The exchange rate shall be taken for the virtual financial assets permitted against the Euro (€) at the time of 12:00 Central European Time on the last day of the reporting month with the taken exchange rate unable to change throughout that same reporting month. However, exchange rates can change from reporting month to reporting month. Operators shall enforce a maximum deposit to the value of €1000 in virtual financial assets per month.

Regulating the use of virtual tokens

The use of virtual tokens shall also be decided on a case-by-case basis by the Malta Gaming Authority: a decision which is guided by their distributed ledger technology economics criteria as well as an evaluation of token’s technology, the company’s structure, human resources, market applications, and security. Registered players can acquire virtual tokens from the operator on the operator’s platform for use on the platform. Virtual tokens can purchased with the use of fiat money as long as withdrawals following the use of the virtual tokens can also be made in fiat currency at the same rate of exchange as they were initially acquired.

Regulating the use of innovative technology arrangements

During the operation of the sandbox framework, the Malta Gaming Authority shall be accepting games and components of games that are fully or partially hosted in a distributed ledger environment, but these technologies shall also be subject to an audit. Other essential components hosted on distributed ledger technology will also be accepted if the Malta Gaming Authority is satisfied by the technology’s compliance with regulation and is successful in an audit.

Approval from the Malta Gaming Authority and inclusion within the sandbox framework is required of any operator seeking to make use of innovative technology arrangements as a part of its key equipment, and each element of innovative technology arrangements shall be audited by registered auditors of the Malta Digital Innovation Authority. The technology is only accepted if the audit report concludes with a positive outcome and the Malta Gaming Authority is satisfied that its regulatory requirements will be adhered to by the operator.

Smart contracts will only be permitted if: the smart contract’s code is reviewed by an audit; necessary amendments are made following the results of the audit; necessary safeguards are put in place to protect the transferred assets; revocation of a smart contract can occur should a flaw generated in the code be discovered; and wallet verification is part of the player’s identity. The main focus of the Malta Gaming Authority, with regards to smart contracts, is where the funds placed in escrow during a contract are held by the smart contract.

According to the Malta Gaming Authority’s Guidelines on Technical Infrastructure Hosting Gaming and Control systems, hosting architecture must be located within the nation of Malta, a European Union member state, or a member of the European Economic Area to ensure that the same principles are upheld, which would seemingly exclude the use of public distributed ledger technology platforms. But applications to the sandbox framework using such technology will not be scrutinised for not abiding by these guidelines. To gain a license, however, the operator of this technology will need to establish a node in Malta to adhere to requirements.

Once approved by the Malta Gaming Authority, the licensee will be rewarded with a dynamic seal, acknowledging that they are a participant of the sandbox framework.

Malta Is the Ideal Location for Your Manufacturing Business

Manufacturing has been a vital sector for Malta since the 1950s and is still one of the main pillars of the local economy to this day. A myriad of companies nowadays use Malta to produce goods with a high added value, constantly innovating their processes and products.

In recent years, Malta’s economy was among the strongest performers among EU member states, with an average growth rate of around 6%.

The advanced manufacturing sector consequently covers a remarkably wide range of areas, including automotive and aviation components, plastics, precision engineering, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and medical cannabis, among many others.

Some of the leading global players have set up their own facility in Malta to take advantage of the business-friendly environment, competitive cost structures, and highly skilled workforce.

With its strategic location, Malta can serve as a hub to target nearby markets within the EU and MENA region.

English is one of the country’s two official languages. Besides reflecting the longstanding relation between Malta and the United Kingdom, this simplifies the provision of training, as well as investors’ interactions with other stakeholders and suppliers, access to legislation, and ease of communication with the authorities.

An efficient and transparent tax system is undoubtedly another important factor in attracting investors to Malta. This is further complemented by a wide range of assistance provided by Malta Enterprise, the government’s economic development agency.

All this provides that essential factor so important to any investor: stability. Indeed, it is this economic, political and social stability which has provided the bedrock for existing operations to flourish and serves as an attraction to a steady stream of new investors, not only within manufacturing.

Through a very competitive institutional and legislative framework, Malta has also effectively established itself as the leading distributed ledger technology jurisdiction and has already attracted a number of blockchain companies. This transformational technology has a tangible potential of revolutionising a number of niches including manufacturing.