Following the recent approval of the 2018 Gaming Act, the Malta Gaming Authority has issued its first directive in line with Article 7(2), which mandates the launch of an Alternative Dispute Resolution framework.
Effective as of 3 December, the ADR outline requires operators to make provisions for resolving player issues, as well as engaging impartial judgement bodies to rule on disputes should the initial consultation be unresolved.
“B2C licensees shall put into effect a written procedure for handling player disputes,” states the directive. “This procedure shall be made readily available to the players, and included within the general terms and conditions.”
The procedure must “be fair, clear and written in intelligible language,” establish a period “within which a B2C licensee is expected to settle a dispute,” offer the player referral to an independent ADR entity if the dispute “was not resolved to his satisfaction,” and “explain to players the potential consequences of the relevant ADR entity’s decision.”
Operators licensed by the MGA must provide ADR representation to players free of charge, ensuring that the ADR bodies are registered in the European Union or European Economic Area, and detailing all points of the complaints procedure to the MGA to hold on record.
In addition, “B2C licensees shall ensure that the ADR entity is competent for disputes against traders established in the EU or EEA state where the B2C licensee is established,” with the MGA informed of the provider’s name as soon as the entity is chosen.
The directive also states that the decision made by the entity is binding, for both operator and customer, though either party can opt to undergo non-binding proceedings under specific conditions.
“In relation to disputes which would fall outside the competence of the jurisdiction of the Small Claims Tribunal in Malta as provided for within the Small Claims Tribunal Act (Chapter 380 of the Laws of Malta), the B2C licensee may opt to offer the player recourse to a form of non-binding alternative dispute resolution services, including mediation.”
The MGA’s Player Support Unit, developed as part of the authority’s self-exclusion procedures in May of this year, will relinquish its role as player and operator mediator on 1 April 2019, allowing the unit to distinguish “between players’ complaints and disputes.”
The PSU will now solely focus on complaints brought by players against MGA licensees which could be considered to be practicing unlawfully, dangerously or in a misleading manner.