One of the primary requirements for legalized online casinos to operate is to get a license from an authorized gaming authority. Most countries who accept online gambling have a gaming regulator who issues these licenses. An iGaming operator who receives such a license agrees to fully comply with the regulations laid out by the gaming authority.
This iGaming license is important as it allows the online casino to operate legally and assures players that they are signing up with a licensed casino and will not be exploited since the iGaming operator has to comply with the gaming regulations laid out. This prevents iGaming operators from breaching gaming laws and manipulating their players. If these iGaming operators breach compliance laws, the gaming regulator can step in and investigate.
Ties to the Italian Mafia?
The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is one of the most popular and recognized gaming regulators in the world. MGA recently confirmed that they had started investigating their licensees based out of Italy. This was done shortly after online anti-Mafia investigations commenced. This operation was led by the police.
The first casualty of this operation was Phoenix International, which had its license revoked because it had links to the Italian Benedetto Bacchi. The MGA is not taking any risks and with Bacchi's arrest which took place earlier this year in connection to his Mafia activities.
According to Italian police, Bacchi operated a number of data transmission centers which helped him avoid local gaming authorities and operated without paying local taxes. The Executive Chairman of the MGA, Joseph Cuschieri, also announced that the MGA will start working with the Italian Anti-Mafia Commission. He requested that the MGA be informed of any illegal activity by Italian gaming operators who are active in the Maltese market. The MGA has had a zero-tolerance policy concerning Mafia activities.
The MGA have consistently suspended licensees due to suspected Mafia activities over the years. In 2015, MGA suspended three gaming licenses mainly because of suspected ties to the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta, an organized crime group. It is not just the Italian Mafia – the MGA has also suspended licenses from operators in Austria, Romania and Spain because of their connection to organized crime. Most of these online casinos were taking part in money laundering activities.
The MGA is one of the most recognized gaming authorities in the world and they are taking the threat of organized crime very seriously. Now that Phoenix International has had its license revoked, a clear message has been sent to other iGaming operators who have ties to organized crime.