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Maltese minds explain blockchain and DLT

Maltese minds explain blockchain and DLT

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Speaking at the recent London Blockchain Conference 2023 (LBC), Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) representative, Odhran Griffin, explained how the MGA goes regulating the use of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT), and how operators are implementing and utilising this technology.

Addressing an audience from diverse business sectors, he began by introducing the MGA and summarising the gaming industry and the various regulatory scenarios.

“Every jurisdiction approaches regulation differently,” said Griffin in his introduction.

“We can split it down into three distinct approaches: complete prohibition, non-comprehensive regulation and comprehensive regulation.”

Malta is, of course, very much in the final category and, as Odhran Griffin, states: “In the online gaming sphere, gamers trust the MGA seal of approval.”

Constant evolution and change

The arrival of technologies such as blockchain and DLT into the iGaming and wider gambling arenas brings many new questions for regulators to get their heads around, but it is clear their mindset is to embrace rather than oppose.

“There are a lot of different ways DLT can be used in the gaming world,” says Griffin said. “We always want to welcome new innovative technologies but need to tread carefully.”

What does DLT even mean?

DLT is the technology behind blockchain. It is the infrastructure and protocols that allow simultaneous access, validation and record updating across a database. The infrastructure enables users to view any changes and who made them, ensuring data is reliable and only accessible to those who need it.

Students for study for a degree in Distributed Ledger Technology in Malta, and the MGA has allowed its 400+ licensees to use blockchain technology since 2018. For many, this stuff is not exactly ‘new.’

In January this year, the MGA published its Policy on the use of Distributed Ledger Technology by Authorised Persons. This document explains the MGA’s rules around the use of DLTs within the gaming sector.

The example given during Griffin’s presentation was the requirement for operators to accept virtual financial assets (VFAs), in order to prove they can control the funds.

Exciting opportunities emerging

Of course, this is not an area that operators can just wander into and pick up overnight. But there are some huge opportunities to be explored. Smart Contracts, for example, are considered to be an ideal vehicle for the iGaming sector, enabling players to bet with one another, peer-to-peer, and trust the technology to honour all winnings.

The Malta Gaming Authority has long been at the forefront of understanding and regulating new technologies and applications. And they will no doubt continue to lead the way and also point the way for those wanting to evolve.

Collaboration will conquer all

The secret to widespread success going forwards is, according to Odhran Griffin, collaboration. Describing it as a ‘critical solution,’ he suggested that systems such as gaming cannot be fully secured “until there is larger scale collaboration between regulators.”

Mentioning the imminent Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulation, which Griffin believes will usher in greater cooperation and unity of approach, adding, somewhat appropriately, that this could be a prediction worth betting on!

The London Blockchain Conference took place May 31st to June 2nd, at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London. Events such as this are where our teams can learn about these technologies disrupt our industry and how we can evolve our business and explore and exploit opportunities.