The Poker Tournament (Locations) Regulations, a new subsidiary legislation, has been published under the Gaming Act (Chapter 400 of the Laws of Malta). It is of relevance primarily to land-based casino operators and provides for the procedures and the parameters which such licence holders are to follow when organising large scale poker tournaments and festivals, being organised in an area adjacent to the casino required for use as a gaming area for the purposes of the poker tournament (referred to as the "extended area").
The extended area must be approved by the Malta Gaming Authority and such approval shall be temporary and will not exceed fourteen days. In relation to this, the duration of the poker tournament being held in such area cannot exceed fourteen days. The application for approval must be submitted at a reasonable time in advance, which shall not be less than thirty days prior to the commencement of the tournament. During the period in which the extended area is being used for the poker tournament, there can be no other gaming activity taking place in the same area.
The application fee is of €300 while there is also a daily inspection fee of €700 for every day of the duration of the tournament.
In addition, the Authority may require information, inter alia, on:
- the name of the tournament;
- the location of the extended area, including the distance from the casino;
- the dates in which the extended area is proposed to be used as a gaming area;
- detailed plans of the extended area including entrances, exits and registration areas;
- details of any entities offering services in relation to the poker tournament;
- the maximum number of participants, the registration fee, the estimated prize pool and the rules of the game;
- details of security and vigilance;
- the list of persons permitted to work in the casino or in the approved extended area during the poker tournament, together with their role and reference to any licence held by such personnel.
The Regulations ensure that the Authority has sufficient power to exercise proper oversight over the tournament by subjecting the approval to some specific conditions - which can be amended at any time - such as :
- the operation of the tournament;
- the protection of players;
- the prevention of money laundering;
- the management of the extended area;
- the use of gaming equipment such as poker chips;
- the information to be displayed;
- access controls;
- surveillance and registration requirements;
- the reporting of regulatory and financial data;
- the exigencies of public interest.
For persons to perform work in relation to a poker tournament, such persons must be in possession of a casino employee licence or a Poker Tournament Dealer Licence as provided for in this subsidiary legislation. The latter, as opposed to casino employee licenses, are valid for one year and are not tied to a particular licence holder. In order to acquire this licence, applicants must submit the application form to the Authority together with an application (or renewal) fee of €115.
This subsidiary legislation has increased flexibility for casinos in the hosting of tournaments where operators would need to use more spacious premises in order to host and organise larger poker tournament events.