Malta Gaming Authority Claims No Association with Lock Poker
Confusion surrounds Merge Gaming’s new European license, as the Maltese Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) has stated unequivocally that it has no connection with Lock Poker, despite recently awarding Merge Gaming – Lock’s network – a category 4 operating license.
In an statement released this week unambiguously titled “Lockpoker.eu is not licensed by the LGA,” it stated that the Lock Poker website, recently transferred to a dot.eu domain under concerns over recent dot.com seizures, “has no connection whatsoever” with the official Maltese gambling authority.
“Any mention of the authority or license issued by the authority on the mentioned website is false and misleading,” it continues. It also advises the public to “play responsibly with companies licensed by jurisdictions that have sound remote gaming regulations.”
The LGA recently added Merge Gaming Malta Ltd to its list of authorized category 4 operators. A category 4 license is for platform operators and software vendors “hosting and managing other remote gaming operators,” requiring the licensee to host a common cashier and accounts system on servers located in Malta.
Merge Gaming, currently licensed under the troubled Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC), announced back in July that it had received a letter of intent from the LGA. The Malta jurisdiction is listed on the UK gambling whitelist, permitting LGA-licensed operators to advertise in the UK and would facilitate a transition to the proposed new changes to the UK gambling regulations.
Although not officially announced by either Merge or the LGA, many poker rooms on Merge updated their websites this month with the LGA “kite mark.” This logo – commonly listed in the footers of websites representing a seal of approval from gambling authorities and official auditors – is present on Lock Poker, Hero Poker, RPM Poker, Black Chip Poker and OverBet, among others. A post on the 2+2 poker forums from an RPM representative on Monday, announced that RPM is now fully licensed by Malta, and Merge Gaming was quietly added to the LGA-published list of licensed operators.
Most skins on the Merge Gaming Network – including Lock Poker – use a common accounting and cashier system. According to IP traces, the servers for the web-based cashier system are currently hosted in the Netherlands by a Kahnawake Mohawk service provider. Lock’s sister site Lock Casino operates on RTG software with a separate cashier system, and some players have reported that funds deposited in the casino can be transferred to the poker room.
Lock Poker is one of the better-known skins on the Merge Gaming Network, thanks to a strong presence in the poker community and an impressive roster of poker pros. However, the poker room received unwanted attention recently when its sponsored pro José Macedo admitted to cheating fellow players in a hole-card sharing scandal, for which Lock ultimately decided to persue legal action.
It is still unclear why the LGA chose to publicly distance themselves from Lock Poker specifically. Both LGA and Lock Poker were unavailable to comment.