Strong legislation, innovation and connectivity continue to attract iGaming companies to Malta. Ian Vella interviews Darren Moore, who recently relocated his company to Malta.
Malta is asserting itself as an iGaming hotspot, with the industry contributing around 12 per cent of the GDP, second only to tourism. The country is not resting on its laurels – it cannot afford to – and is constantly upgrading its already strong legal and regulatory framework.
This continues to encourage further innovation and growth which in turn attracts further investment. In recent years Malta has developed an extensive network of double taxation agreements, set up a competitive tax system and is fast becoming the leading EU-based solution.
From the technical side, operators are quite impressed with the infrastructure the island can offer – Malta is well connected via submarine cables which offer fibre routes and a solid interconnection that can service the largest players in the iGaming industry.
Darren Moore, founder of bettinggods.com, recently decided to start relocating his business to Malta from the UK.
Moore first started out betting small on horse races while still working full-time as a police officer in North Yorkshire, UK. He started studying racing and found that he could achieve a good level of success and was able to often identify a winner or runner-up. His knowledge of horse racing and betting reached a point where betting income was sufficient to become a professional gambler and live solely from the gambling profits.
He recounted how this later evolved into a small business venture where he shared his tips for a small fee, later being head-hunted to work for a betting company and eventually branching out to form his own company, Betting Gods, which he launched in 2014.
Unlike other iGaming companies, his business does not just offer customers the possibility to bet on certain outcomes for sports events – it also manages the services of premium tipsters who provide their selections for a fee to customers who are looking to make a profit from their betting. The company also provides free tips via newsletters.
The company started growing rapidly and partnered with affiliates across the world.
“This industry is full of poor quality products so people find it hard to trust new brands. It’s why we have spent a lot of time and effort in building up that trust,” Moore says.
Moore first visited Malta in the summer of 2014 and fell in love with the island. He was aware of the growing iGaming industry but it was only over three more visits that he realised quite how significant it was.
He then spent 12 weeks in Malta during the summer of 2015, exploring the viability of moving Betting Gods to Malta. Following further research, he then set up the first office in November, 2016.
Malta was the right place to relocate the company and secure its future and accessibility
Moore was satisfied with this first step as the administrative burden was low. He is also in discussions with the Malta Gaming Authority to explore the options of legislating the tipster niche area of the gaming industry.
When asked whether his move to Malta was a result of Brexit, Moore admits that this actually gave his company a huge boost.
“Our services were suddenly cheaper for countries using the euro. Within days of the Brexit vote, we saw an increase in sales from EU countries and several months on, our company has now grown 51 per cent, with over 30 per cent of customers now residing outside the UK. We also have a growing customer case in Ireland, Spain, Germany, Portugal and France.
“With the risk of being locked out of EU markets, Malta was the right place to relocate the company and secure its future and accessibility.” Moore explains that his company does not handle client funds directly other than the money paid to access content – therefore he does not need a gaming licence and this is a previously unexplored niche in the gaming industry for Malta.
For this reason, Moore says that it would be in the public interest if this area is also regulated. He explains that it is quite easy for a rogue site to set up tipsters and make false claims online which would eventually destroy public trust in legitimate companies like his.
Malta’s gaming legislation base was created in 2004, and even though it has served the industry well, the MGA needs to continue consultations with industry stakeholders to further improve legislation and ensure protection for iGaming companies and their customers.
Moore explains that his company is still officially registered in the UK but it is anticipated that it will officially move to Malta in the first quarter of this year. Further growth is envisaged in the next few months and he says that it is highly likely that the company will engage more local staff in customer service, social media and marketing.
Asked whether he is confident he will find the required talent in Malta, Moore says that Malta is recognised for its iGaming industry and as such it is attracting a lot of talent.
The Maltese government and the Malta Gaming Authority recently launched various schemes to train locals as well. The MGA also set up the Malta Gaming Academy which provides ready-made training programmes that have been developed in line with the regulatory requirements and training needs of casino and iGaming companies within many jurisdictions. Also other specialised courses by MCAST and by the University of Malta are contributing towards creating a highly skilled workforce.
Combine this with a strong financial services background and access to local banks who are increasingly servicing iGaming businesses as well and any company will find Malta to be an obvious choice.
“Malta is clearly the capital of the iGaming world and I can only see this industry getting bigger over the next few years. With its climate, stability and strong economy, I think there is no better place in Europe or possibly the world.”