The Republic of Malta is a small island state located in the Mediterranean Sea, one of the most developed gambling centers in Europe. All types of gambling entertainment are legalized in the country. The specifics of conducting gambling activities are clearly regulated by law. Malta became the first EU member state to define online business practices.
Today the gambling business in Malta accounts for about 11% of the country’s GDP. According to the reports of the MGA – the state regulator of gambling – taxes from gambling bring about 80 million EUR to the country’s budget.
Features of gambling business regulation
Malta is one of the oldest states to legalize gambling. Lotteries were played here at the end of the 17th century. The first official Ordinance on the public lottery, which transferred the activities of organizing draws to the state monopoly, was adopted in 1922.
In 1934, requirements were introduced for licensing activities for horse and dog racing. In 1958, casinos were settled.
At the end of the 20th century, the aforementioned Regulations were replaced by modern legislative acts:
- 1998 – the law “On gambling” was adopted, which defines the specifics of organizing activities and control for land-based casinos;
- 2001 – The Law on Lotteries was approved. The new legislative act consolidated the norms of most of the previously existing provisions. At the same time, a special department is being created to ensure control over the conduct of the gambling business in the country – the Lotteries and Games Management Service (LGA).
The settlement of online activities took place in 2 stages. In 2000, the Public Lottery Ordinance was amended with a number of amendments. The new rules served as the basis for regulating the online gambling business until 2004. More precisely, before the entry into force of the special “Provisions on distance games”.
MGA – State Regulator of Gambling in Malta
Today the Maltese Gambling Authority (MGA), known before the rebranding as the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA), is the only independent government regulator in the country’s gambling industry. The department manages all gambling processes both in land-based establishments and in the online segment.
The MGA structure unites several divisions:
- the board of directors responsible for the strategic development of the department itself;
- an audit committee that ensures high quality corporate governance, oversight of financial processes and internal control of accounting;
- executive committee;
- supervisory board.
The multistage structure allows to ensure the effectiveness of the regulator.
The Maltese Gambling Service regulates all types of gambling activities:
- land-based casinos;
- online gambling;
- cruise casinos;
- bingo halls;
- advertising and national lotteries;
- non-commercial games;
- other directions.
The exception is binary options. This type of activity is carried out under the supervision of the State Financial Services Department in accordance with the Law on Investment Services.
The main functions of the MGA are the issuance of gambling licenses and the control of compliance with legal provisions by operators. Also, the tasks of the department include work to prevent and combat criminal activity. In addition, MGA provides the issuance of consulting documents and analysis of feedback and suggestions from participants in the gambling market.
There are no limits on the number of licenses issued for land-based establishments. However, for the paperwork, it is necessary to obtain permission from the Minister of Finance.
Malta online casino licensing
There are also no restrictions on the number of licenses issued for online resources. Moreover, the operators claim that the paperwork process in Malta is noticeably simplified compared to other jurisdictions.
Today there are 4 types of licenses that representatives of the gaming business in Malta can count on:
- Class I license. Allows the operation of online casinos with RNG-based video slots, including slot machines and table games. Issued for a period of 5 years. Taxes amount to 4 660 EUR monthly for the first six months of work, 7 000 EUR – each subsequent month;
- Class II license. Allows the organization of the activities of bookmakers, other resources that accept online bets on specific events. Tax deductions will be 0.5% of the total rates;
- Class III license. It gives the right to create and organize the activities of poker rooms, lotteries, bingo, and other resources that provide an opportunity for gamblers to play. Operators pay 5% tax on the total income of the online portal;
- Class IV license. Provided to companies specializing in hosting management, gambling operations, and gambling equipment supply. For the first six months, manufacturers and providers are exempt from taxes. For the next 6-12 months, companies are charged a monthly fee of 2,330 EUR. Further, the tax is increased to 4 660 EUR.
Conditions for obtaining a license
The main requirement for obtaining an online casino license is having a legal address in Malta. At least two people must become shareholders of the company.
A state fee is paid for registration. This is followed by obtaining a VAT payer number and registration of a legal address. The appointment of directors and other officers of the company is made. A prerequisite is the submission to the MGA of a detailed business plan for the organization’s activities.
Companies applying for permits for the first time receive a temporary six-month license. Next, a thorough check of the operator is carried out. Upon receiving positive results, the business owner receives a permanent license valid for 5 years.
Extension of permits is allowed. The gambling service has the right to suspend or revoke a license if the requirements of the law are not met.
The initial fees do not differ globally. The tax rate for registration of any type of license is 2,300 EUR. Additionally, a system audit commission is charged – 1,770 EUR and an annual fee of 8,500 EUR.
The corporate tax for gambling companies is 35%. However, after the payment of dividends to shareholders, about 30% of the tax is returned. Thus, the real rate is 5%.
The largest online casinos in Malta
According to statistics, today about 10% of all online casinos in the world operate on the basis of Maltese licenses. The online sector of the gambling industry is one of the fastest growing in the country itself. If land-based casinos are represented by only four establishments, the list of online portals is much more significant.
Among the largest and most popular resources, it is worth noting:
- Mr Green Casino – online casino company Mr Green Ltd, headquartered in Sliema, Malta;
- Videoslots.com – a gambling site owned by the Maltese operator Panda Media Limited;
- Casino Room, successfully operating on the market since 1999. The owner of the resource is Ellmount Gaming Limited;
- Slots Magic is a gambling portal of Skill On Net Limited.
In addition, online casinos owned by the Kindred Group, formerly known as Unibet, are popular. The operator’s resource network unites more than 13 portals, including Unibet, Maria, 32Red, Stan James and other well-known sites.
Each of the presented online casinos has a number of significant advantages:
- an extensive collection of games. Among the entertainment on the sites are video slots of various formats, roulettes, card games, scratch cards. Some online platforms offer live dealer and sports betting options;
- variety of payment methods;
- worthy bonus policy.
Multiplatform sites have been translated into dozens of languages and offer software from various well-known manufacturers.
Popular slot machines
Players’ preferences regarding the choice of video slots are not very diverse. Traditionally, developments of well-known manufacturers are in greatest demand. The “Popular Slots” sections of the portals have the following models:
- Gonzo’s Quest from NetEnt;
- Zeus 1000 from WMS;
- Ramses Book by Merkur;
- Spirit of Aztecs from Playson
- Wild Sevens by Playson.
Maltese slot machine manufacturers
It is interesting that the developers of many video slots presented in online casinos are the Maltese slot machine manufacturers. Among the most famous creators of gambling who have conquered their niche in the market are:
- World Match;
World Match is a company founded in 2003. The assortment of the manufacturer includes over 100 titles of slot machines. The devices are created in several versions, they can be launched through a browser and from mobile devices operating on iOS and Android operating systems.
The manufacturer’s board games include:
- several models of roulettes;
- various card games;
- more than ten versions of video poker.
Participation in table games with live dealers is provided. The broadcast is being conducted from the halls of Venice Casino. In addition, World Match offers the option of purchasing multi-platform online casino sites.
Playson is a company that started operations in 2001. The main specialization is the release of slot machines for online casinos. The manufacturer’s collection includes several dozen devices of various topics. Among the Playson models, there are popular 3D slots. Vending machines are being developed for use on mobile devices. Users are offered the opportunity to download quality applications and launch devices online.
GameArt is a company founded in 2013. The developer has representative offices in several countries around the world, but the headquarters is based in Malta. Despite the “young” age of the manufacturer, its collection includes over seventy titles of slot machines for online casinos. In addition, the company is engaged in the creation and implementation of terminals for the sale of lottery tickets.
Prospects for the development of the gambling business in Malta
Gambling licensing in Malta has a number of significant advantages. The possibility of obtaining the status of an international company, relatively low tax payments, the promptness of the registration process, the absence of restrictions on the types of activities – just a short list of the available advantages.
Malta’s gambling business is actively expanding. According to MGA reports, annual gross turnover is increasing by an average of 4%. Representatives of the country’s gambling market are constantly looking for new development prospects. Simplifying the regulatory framework, holding international thematic exhibitions, licensing new manufacturers and online casinos, establishing partnerships with regulators from other countries – the world of gambling in Malta is developing dynamically.
Taking into account the active participation of specialized agencies and owners of the gambling business in Malta in the expansion of the industry, it is possible to predict the success and efficiency of its development.