Maltese law-making in the iGaming industry has been pioneering and shown tremendous foresight. In 2004 Malta became the first EU member state to enact comprehensive legislation focussed squarely on the remote gambling sector, and in doing so has created a trusted jurisdiction for businesses worldwide.
Prior to recent developments, Malta has had a long history with betting activities. As far back as 1922, the game of Lotto, adopted from neighbouring Italy, was government regulated. But it was lawmakers’ prescience regarding the forecasted growth of the online casino that has established the country as a world leader.
Since the formation of the MGA and the regulations in law that support it, the online gambling sector has grown tremendously within the territory. Online providers now represent around 12 per cent of the country’s GDP.
Online casinos are popular in many countries across the world but the industry has seen a huge success in the UK. The UK are home to various online casino providers who offer a range of casino games to their players, ranging from poker and roulette to online slot machines. A trend that has taken off in the UK is online live casinos, where providers stream real life dealers on games such as blackjack to enhance the online gaming experience and mirror that of a land based casino. The UK have relaxed gambling laws with many online gambling providers regulated by Maltese firm, the MGA.
What is the MGA?
Established in 2001 the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) formerly the Lottery Gaming Authority (LGA) is the Malta control board, set up to regulate most forms of gambling in the state. This includes land-based activities such as casinos as well as their online counterparts, comprising B2C and B2B services.
- B2C (business-to-consumer)—businesses that sell a product or service to the end-user. These are the online casinos, sports bookmakers and lottery commissions.
- B2B (business-to-business)—the product or service offered is intended for business use, not the consumer. These include software developers that produce casino games or betting infrastructure, payment service providers and customer support frameworks.
The goals and functions of the MGA are:
- To prevent criminal enterprises that are often affiliated with gaming pursuits
- To create transparency and security for players
- To protect minors and vulnerable individuals
- To provide guidance and assist companies in applying for gambling permits
- To safeguard players’ funds and deposits
- To monitor the activities of licencees
- To prove randomness and fairness in all games of chance.
Over 250 gaming firms now call Malta home but why are so many flocking to the Mediterranean?
Competitive tax rates
Combined with a smooth licence acquisition process, is a favourable corporate tax for gaming companies choosing to set up headquarters on Maltese soil. Rates as low as 5 per cent, depending on the type of licence obtained, allow multinationals to extend their profit margins when compared to countries like the UK where taxation for similar firms is closer to 21 per cent.
Reliable internet infrastructure
An important piece of the puzzle for attracting technology-based firms to your territory is the speed and reliability of the internet. This is something Portugal has also successfully demonstrated, attracting start-ups and tech giants like Google and Amazon, alike to Lisbon and Porto in recent years. Malta has a strong fibre optic network in urban areas and is one of the few countries in Europe with nationwide 5G access.
A capable workforce
Malta has a strong education system, and the universities of Malta are equipping graduates with the skills for relevant and in demand positions in the current world. Along with Maltese, English is an official language of Malta and access to anglophonic employees is a big draw for businesses—making North American and Australian trade smoother.Beyond the sphere of gaming scope, Malta also offers a well-established network of supporting industries. Legal firms, accountants, outstanding financial services and content marketing agencies are all at hand to optimise a gambling firm’s potential.
EU membership status
Malta being a member of the EU makes trade with the huge market that is the European Union all the easier. In addition, Malta is part of the Eurozone which facilitates commerce further.
One of the policies of the EU is the free movement of workers between member states. This opens up the human resources available to companies based within its territory. iGaming firms can attract talent from across a whole continent without excessive red tape to deal with.
Employees that choose to relocate to Malta are also assisted with some attractive tax planning opportunities. These include the Global Residence Programme and the High Net Worth Individuals Scheme—highly skilled talent can enjoy a 15 per cent income tax cap on their salary.
What is the outcome?
The result of this burgeoning industry generates 700 million euros annually in tax revenue for the country and employs 9,000 people, the vast majority of which work in the online sector. Gaming employment salaries have increased at a rate of 11 per cent year on year.
Malta has attracted some large UK based firms to relocate following the uncertainty of their withdrawal from the EU, this includes firms that were previously situated in Gibraltar.
iGaming is a highly dynamic market with transformations and innovations coming thick and fast. Blockchain technology, esports and cloud based gaming offer opportunities for investors that Malta is at the heart of.
The forward-thinking approach of Maltese online gaming legislation has been successful on an unprecedented scale. At the time of writing, 10 per cent of all gaming companies are registered in Malta and with a policy of continued renewal and reappraisal, it’s likely to further expand in the future.
Disclaimer: Play responsibly. Players must be over 18. For help visit https://www.gamcare.org.uk/.