The Player Protection Directive has been updated by the Malta Gaming Authority ('MGA'), after due consolation with the industry. The changes do not bring a drastic change to the requirements of operators; however, they clarify certain responsibilities vis-à-vis responsible gaming features.

One of the main changes is the inclusion of a requirement on B2C operators to request from players that are requesting the removal of or are requesting a decrease in an exclusion, to provide explanation as to the reason why the exclusion should be removed or decreased. The B2C operator is bound to follow its policies and procedures and should only remove/decrease an exclusion if the B2C operator is satisfied with the reply. The B2C operator has the discretion to accept or reject said request and should inform the customer within 7 days of whether his request has been accepted or not. This does not affect the 24hr and 7-day cooling off periods imposed when removing or reducing, as these will now start running after the decision to accede the request is taken.

The amendments to the Directive clarify that excluded players should still be allowed to withdraw their funds on account, and that B2C operators are expected to include wording in the terms and conditions to explain how this can be done.

Another important provision tackles the use of in-game digital currency. The MGA is imposing on operators using in-game digital currency to have in force in-game value reinforcement by making real monetary value of the in-game currency clear at all times.

Focus is being also placed on the need to have relevant policies and procedures to promote responsible gaming and address problem gambling. The amendments to the Directive, bring further clarification to the type of criteria which are to be included as a minimum in the policies and procedures to determine problem gambling in players. These minimum criteria are seen as the baseline of any B2C operator in monitoring players to identify gambling problems.

A slight amendment is also included in the reality check, which now needs to also include a reminder to players to stay in control of their gambling and the amount wagered, in addition to the amount of winnings and losses, and the time spent.

Other clarifications added to the Directive reflect the requirement emanating from the Gaming Commercial Communication Regulations – in particular that free to play games should retain the same technical conditions of the play for money games and that imagery depicting illicit substances shall not be features in games and/or websites designs.

These changes come into effect from 12 January 2023 and operators are to implement said changes as soon as possible, but in no case later than 12 January 2024.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.