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A measure is introduced in Malta to shield operators from foreign liability

With some companies facing lawsuits for their Austrian operations, Maltese MPs have introduced legislation (Bill 55) to shield licenced online gaming operators from international liabilities.

A measure is introduced in Malta to shield operators from foreign liability

The proposed legislation would change Malta's gaming statutes by include a provision that would ban Maltese courts from awarding damages to plaintiffs who sued gaming enterprises for providing gaming services in other countries.

This would provide legal protection to gaming companies operating in the European grey market who have been sued. In other circumstances, local courts have compelled operators to reimburse all consumer damages.

Legal docs from an Austrian physician who lost €500,000 in one of 888's gaming enterprises.

The individual got a final and non-appealable judgement against Virtual Digital Services Limited in January 2022, ordering them to repay the sum.

The company is 888's Malta subsidiary that provides gaming in European Union member states when the corporation lacks a local licence. 888 failed to deposit the monies imposed by the court within the legally mandated 19-day timeframe.

Since 888 denied payment in Austria, the individual's lawyers are seeking a judgement in Maltese courts.

If Bill 55 is passed, it will become far more difficult for local Malta courts to order any damages in such circumstances.

888 cites EU legislation on free circulation of services.

"The group only operates where it has a justifiable legal basis to do so," according to an 888 spokesman.

888 questions the Austrian licencing regime's compliance with EU legislation, citing European free movement of services.

"Like many other international leading gambling operators, the group serves Austrian customers through a Malta Gaming Authority licence."

"This licence allows holders to offer their services outside of Malta where there are coherent legal arguments to do so, provided it complies with Maltese regulatory and legal requirements," stated an 888 representative.

"This position is based on the fundamental EU principle of the freedom to provide services."

The London Stock Exchange-listed operator stated that it had "extensive independent advice" from lawyers and specialists both inside and outside Austria who stated that the Austrian courts' approach is contradictory to this concept.

This is the position of the local regulator, according to 888.

“The Malta Gaming Authority concurs with this view and therefore takes the position that gaming service providers licensed by it are able to offer their services in Austria entirely legally on the basis of their freedom to provide services within the internal market, insofar as they remain compliant with the Maltese regulatory and legal framework,” said the spokesperson.

“Based on the extensive advice and opinion received, we are absolutely confident in our legal and regulatory position.”


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