Malta is a reputable and well-regulated European jurisdiction attracting major operators from around the world. This increased demand is due to political stability, low taxes and the opportunity to receive the permit on gambling business operation in 28 countries of the European Union. Moreover, the Maltese government is focused on creating the most favourable conditions for potential owners of the land-based gambling establishments.
Gambling in Malta
Today Malta is a harbour with more than 300 gambling houses. In 2016, the revenue of this sector was around €1.2 billion accounting for 12% of the country's GDP. However, this has not always been the case. It all started in 2000 when Malta launched its first online gambling site and created a special supervisory authority that was aimed at regulating the gambling industry – MGA (Malta Gaming Authority).
Nevertheless, the meteoric rise of the gambling industry began with the adoption of the first law on gambling and iGaming in 2004. New developments in the legislation were aimed at regulating gambling in the country. They also specified the licensing and taxation procedures. The new legislation led to a rapid takeoff of the iGaming industry in Malta as an independent and self-sustaining industry.
Until 2018, the gambling sphere was organised in accordance with the previously adopted procedure, while, for the first time in 14 years, it has been changed. The initiator of this process was the former CEO of MGA, Joseph Cuschieri. This ended up in a new law on gambling called Gaming Act, which was enacted on 1 July 2018.
The new law abandoned the previous regulatory system granting licenses in several classes and introduced new rules. In particular, it affected the operators who previously had to obtain official permission from the supervisory authority. Before there were several classes of licenses, while now remained only two: business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C).
Joseph Cuschieri, former Chief Executive Officer of MGA
Advantages of starting the gambling business in Malta:
- Malta is not included in the list of offshore zones, which causes a positive impact on brand credibility;
- there is no limit on the number of opened accounts in local banks;
- the good reputation of the jurisdiction will help increase the level of trust among the potential clients;
- the opportunity to transfer the existing gaming business to Malta from any country in the world quickly and free;
- the absence of restrictions for the technology sector in gambling: online, offline, mobile casinos;
- the opportunity to license all forms of gambling: online casinos, poker rooms, sports betting, lotteries, etc.;
- the taxes do not apply to representatives of the B2B sector
- the owner of the gambling business has the opportunity to obtain a residence permit in Malta.
Obtaining a license for online casino opening in Malta
The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) carries on the licensing of gambling in the country. The organisation is considering applications from potential operators and based on the given facts issues an official license. This process is quite simple, but time-consuming, due to the constant increase in the number of applicants. Favourable conditions created by the Maltese government attract more and more ambitious entrepreneurs from all over the world.
Casinos for locals
For 2015, based on official data provided by the MGA, love to gambling emptied the pockets of local citizens by $139.6 million. This figure accounts for 195 300 people, which is about 56% of the total population of the island. An interesting fact is that tourists are allowed to visit land-based casinos at the age of 18, while the local residents only at 25. At the entrance to the casino, every visitor has to show the documents to prove their identity and age.
With that being said, it is obvious that both offline and online gambling houses are in high demand among the Maltese, while the most popular form of gambling is the national lottery.
The taxation of gambling in Malta
Until 2018, to receive the license it was necessary to pay the stated EUR 2 330 fee, then make the required annual payment for license renewal and to pay monthly tax on games in the amount of EUR 7 000 per month. Since 1 July 2018, with the adoption of the Gaming Act, online and offline project operators pay license fees following the new rules. It is worth noting that representatives of the B2B type are entirely exempt from taxation.
Now the gambling industry in Malta is flourishing, but its success cost quite expensive. For the past ten years, Italian law enforcement agencies are conducting investigations of the gambling exploitation in Malta with the aim of money laundering and earning by different criminal groups. As a result, the inspectors detected the regular penetration of criminal elements in the gambling industry, as well as MGA oversight. Now they are actively fighting against the mafia, as well as applying sanctions to increase the control of MGA.
Thanks to a new bill, the authorities seek to regulate gambling activity, to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other illegal financial flows directly related to the gambling industry.