Malta Gaming Authority Denies Mafia Links On IGaming’s Paradise Island
There are no links between suspected Mafia operatives and the Malta Gaming Authority on iGaming’s Paradise Isle, the MGA has asserted in a strenuous rebuttal of allegations in the local media.
Latest reports in the Times of Malta–often a fierce anti-establishment critic–have suggested that investigating Italian authorities have contacted the MGA about the Mafia’s alleged links with iGaming websites based on the Mediterranean island nation, the capital of international Internet gambling.
But the MGA has adamantly denied the claims.
“[We] refer to reports published in sections of the media in relation to preliminary investigations that have been concluded by the Italian authorities regarding certain Italian nationals,” responded the MGA.
“[We, the Authority] would like to clarify that there is no connection between the MGA and these individuals — and none of them form any part of the ownership structures of online gaming companies licensed by the MGA.”
In the last decade the Maltese republic, population 517,000, made up of three islands, Malta, Gozo and the largely uninhabited Comino, lying between Sicily and the North African coast, has become something of an iGaming paradise.
Today some 500 iGaming companies—principal among them Casumo, Evolution, Mr Green, Betsson, Tipico, Kindred, Paddy Power Betfair, William Hill, LeoVegas, Betway Group, Genesis Global, employing almost 11,000 people—have major operations either based or headquartered on the George Cross Isle, awarded for the valiant defiance of the civilian population in the former British colony during World War Two.
Malta’s reputation for probity took a beating five-year-ago, following the car-bombing killing of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Last month two brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, aged 59 and 57, respectively, were sentenced to 40 years in prison each for her murder.
They are linked to Yorgen Fenech, one of Malta’s wealthiest people, who is currently awaiting trial for alleged involvement in Galizia’s assassination.
In recent years Malta has also had to contend with serious money-laundering charges levelled by the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and been put on the organisation’s so-called Bad List.
Malta, however, was given the fiscal all-clear by FATF earlier this year.
Recent media reports say that Italy’s state Direzione Investigativa Antimafia’s (DIA) has been in touch with the MGA about alleged links between Mafia families in Sicily and Calabria (the so-called ‘Ndrangheta’) and iGaming outfits operating in Malta to offer unlicensed and illegal gambling to launder ill-gotten gains.
It was alleged that a total of 34 Mafia-connected individuals have been identified.
After carrying out its own investigation, the MGA asserted: “There were no links between [ourselves] and those that had carried out the reported illegal activity.
“None of these persons are directors, shareholders, ultimate beneficial owners or key persons of any MGA licence-holder,” affirmed the Maltese gaming authority.
“The MGA is liaising with local and Italian authorities and will continue to monitor any further developments.”
Meantime, the MGA has started a closed consultation on new shifts in the iGaming metaverse, featuring the possible adoption of Virtual Financial Assets and Non-Fungible Tokens, et al, as betting currency and payment.
Light years ahead of any men-in-black wielding Uzis.