Malta Gaming Authority undecided on Bitcoin for its licensees

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has not yet confirmed whether it will allow its licensees to deal with financial transactions in digital currencies, such as Bitcoin.

This position is contrary to other gambling regulatory bodies that have already given the go ahead for their licensees to use virtual currencies, including the United Kingdom Gambling Commission and the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission.

Joseph Cuschieri, the executive chairman of the MGA, has stated while his company has had very few requests from gambling licensees seeking authorisation to deal with Bitcoin and other digital currency transactions, the company was taking a pro-active approach – to look at “adopting a national approach” to virtual currencies.

In doing so, MGA would work with Malta’s Central Bank, the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit and the Malta Financial Services Authority.

Cuschieri also noted that payment systems such as Bitcoin were becoming more popular among interactive gaming operators, because traditional financial institutions (and the systems and services they operate) were beginning to become more weary and less inclined to deal directly with online gaming companies.

MGA has always refused requests to authorise virtual currency technology (also known as crypto-currency), as it has been viewed as risky, but is now re-evaluating its policies. MGA is also introducing an updated gaming legislation that is hoped to take effect by March 2017.

The new legislation will look to simplify the current gaming regime by setting up just two license groups – business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C).

Cuschieri also noted that he believed the best way for interactive European betting agencies to progress within the gambling industry would be to work together and collaborate, rather than viewing and treating other companies as enemies.

Bitcoins are a digital currency which is regulated and verified by secured encryption technology. The units of currency are created and operated by people, and not any financial institution or central bank (this is known as decentralisation). Bitcoins are currently compatible with multiple online banking services, such as e-wallets like Neteller, Skrill and PayPal.

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