On the 3rd of December 2018, the Malta Gaming Authority (“MGA”) issued the Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive (“Directive”).
The Directive clarifies the Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) procedures which are mandatory in terms of the Gaming Player Protection Regulations (SL 583.08 of the Laws of Malta). It is intended to provide guidance to B2C licensees as to the nature of the ADR entity which they must refer players to, as well as sets out the information which must be notified and reported to the MGA.
Every B2C gaming licensee is required to have in place an ADR policy specifying the ADR procedure for handling player disputes and this must be readily available to players as part of the general terms and conditions. A link to an Online Dispute Resolution Platform must also be included by online B2C licensees. The ADR policy is to establish the time-frames for the resolution of disputes, explain to the players that the service is free, how the ADR entity’s decision will affect them and also inform the players of their right to seek further legal and judicial action.
Operators are under an obligation to engage an ADR entity as well as to notify the MGA as to which ADR entity has been engaged. Only ADR entities that are competent and established within the EU/EEA may be engaged.
As from the 21st of January 2019, monthly reports will need to be submitted to the MGA which detail the disputes referred for ADR as well as their conclusion and relevant details.
Going forward, the MGA will be distinguishing between player “disputes” and “complaints”. A “dispute” in this context is understood to mean a disagreement between a player and the licensee with which that player is registered whilst a “complaint” refers to a report by an individual that any aspect of a licensee’s gaming service is unlawful, or conducted in a manner which is not safe, fair or transparent.
The Player Support Unit within the MGA will still receive complaints from any individuals, however, as from the 1st April 2019, it will not delve into the merits of a dispute between a player and a licensee.
B2C licensees have therefore been instructed by the MGA to make sure that their player dispute procedures do not refer players to the MGA, but rather to the engaged ADR entity.
The Directive is applicable from the date of its publication, namely the 3rd of December 2018. However a transitory provision is catered for; B2C licensees are being expected to have all necessary arrangements in place to comply with the procedural requirements as set out in the Directive by the 31st of March 2019.
The Directive can be access here: https://www.mga.org.mt/wp-content/uploads/Directive-5-of-2018-ADR-Directive.pdf
The MGA’s announcement with respect to the Directive can be accessed here: https://www.mga.org.mt/mga-publishes-alternative-dispute-resolution-adr-directive/
Article by Dr Terence Cassar and Dr Gabriel Fenech.
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to impart legal advice and readers are asked to seek verification of statements made before acting on them.