February 6, 2024 3 min read


Malta Gaming Authority Distances Itself from Italian Mafia Figure

The regulator denied any links between its licensees and Antonio Ricci, a key figure in the recent criminal investigation against the ‘Ndrangheta mafia

In the wake of Italy’s “Operation Galaxy,” where authorities seized €400 million ($433 million) in assets linked to organized crime, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has emphatically denied any connection to the criminal mastermind behind the illegal gambling ring. The MGA issued an official statement, noting it would continue cooperating with authorities and closely monitoring the case.

The Crime Boss Resided in Malta

Operation Galaxy, an ongoing probe into the intersection of organized crime and gambling, revealed a criminal scheme involving online gaming services reportedly facilitated through Malta-registered companies. The investigation revealed that the previously unnamed kingpin behind the illegal gambling ring was Antonio Ricci, an Italian in his late 40s, who allegedly held a prominent management position at a licensed iGaming company.

Ricci, previously unnamed, had been arrested by Maltese police in April 2019 on charges of money laundering for the mafia. Residing in Malta since at least 2010, Ricci faced legal battles before being deported to Italy. Currently restricted to his town of residence, he is forbidden from leaving, as per police reports.

The Italian police recently seized roughly €400 million in assets linked to three connected iGaming companies with ties to Ricci. Initial reports suggested that Ricci was directly involved with at least one of these businesses, using it as a front to launder significant sums obtained from illegal gambling rings across Europe.

The MGA Refuted Any Involvement with Ricci

Operation Galaxy uncovered that Ricci’s organization projected its influence abroad through companies with offices in several European jurisdictions. The group avoided detection by transferring most proceeds from illegal activities abroad, evading Italian tax authorities, while contacts with criminal organizations provided protection and helped attract new customers.

The MGA swiftly addressed the case’s implications and its proliferation across Italian and international media, clarifying on Friday that Ricci had no association with any iGaming company licensed by the MGA. The regulator insisted that it maintained close contact with local and international authorities and would closely monitor any further developments. 

The Authority would like to clarify that the individual being named at the center of the operation… does not, in any capacity, form part of the ownership structures of any gaming company that is licensed by the MGA.

MGA official statement

The MGA’s swift clarification underlines its commitment to ensuring the integrity of its licensed operators and dissociating from any connections with criminal elements. As the investigation unfolds, regulatory bodies like the MGA must remain vigilant in upholding the credibility of the gambling industry, fostering a secure environment for operators and players.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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