Malta’s gaming regulator has pledged to act on growing concerns from Italy that some gaming operators on the island have been infiltrated by the Mafia.
Malta Gaming Authority executive chairman Joseph Cuschieri confirmed with Italian gaming news portal Agimeg that controls on Italian gaming companies will be intensified in the wake of “several reports from Italy”.
“We have very strict and transparent rules, and we immediately launch investigations every time the Italian authorities report suspicions against gaming companies, even though we don’t have the investigation capacity of the police and the judiciary,” Cuschieri said. “We collaborate with the Italian authorities constantly and in a timely manner, and there is mutual respect between us.”
Meanwhile, leading gambling intelligence website GamblingCompliance reported the MGA’s investigation into all of the Italian gaming licensees will only be the first stage in a concerted crackdown.
MGA executive chairman Joseph Cuschieri
“We have problems only with Italians, who are now managing less than ten licences out of 200,” an unnamed Maltese official told the website. “Italy is becoming highly risky for our reputation, as very often we must face public scandals founded on the connection between Italian entrepreneurs and the mafia. The cancellation of a licence is always possible, because it is a privilege and not a right. If in our investigation we discover any business not provided by the licence, we are going to revoke it.”
Earlier this month, the MGA suspended the license of Benedetto Bacchi, an alleged Mafia boss who owns some 700 betting shops in Italy, after he was arrested in Palermo as part of an anti-mafia operation. Bacchi allegedly used his Maltese gaming company Phoenix International Ltd to launder up to €1 million every month.
Lovin Malta has requested detailed data from the MGA concerning its gaming licensees and investigation into Italian operators.