The rise of Malta as a casino hub

Malta has become the hotspot for iGaming and casinos 

When we think of online gambling and countries that regulate casinos, our minds instantly go to Malta. Over the years, this country has become a true hub for iGaming.

A growing number of gambling companies from around the world establish their entire operations in Malta thanks to the favourable tax framework and good regulations. They create casinos for players from all over the world offering different types of online casino bonuses.

Casinos in the UK cannot operate without a UKGC licence and without being on Gamstop. This is why, some of the biggest and most popular casino brands are based in Malta and offer their services to players in the UK with the Maltese licensc.

It’s not just the casinos. Some of the biggest software companies choose this country as their base too. This includes Evolution Gaming and NetEnt. In this post, we’ll talk about the history of gambling in Malta and its rise to the gambling industry's top jurisdictions.

History of gambling in Malta: What contributed towards the growth?

Gambling has been the people’s favourite pastime in Malta since the 17th century. At this point, the country was ruled by the Order of St. John. Knights frequently enjoyed gambling, but this was solely reserved for the high circles.

When Malta fell under British Colonial rule back in the 19th century, gambling remained a trending pastime – and it prospered quite a lot. In 1922, the country borrowed Lotto from its neighbour, Italy, and the government started regulating the game. But, it wasn’t until 1964 when the country gained its independence that the government started regulating this industry. Online gambling came into the picture in 2004 through legislation that was a first in the EU.

When the Malta Gaming Authority or MGA was first established in 2004, the industry reached its turning point and a new era of success started. Today, the MGA is responsible for overseeing and regulating every form of gambling in the country – and online gambling is no exception. Today, iGaming contributes over $700 million to Malta’s yearly GDP. This equals 13% of the total GDP, and the number grows with every passing year.

The Malta Online Casino Regulatory Framework

The MGA is famous for its rigorous framework of regulations. People trust it, which means they trust casinos that hold the MGA licence. Today, Malta is a leading hub for licences for online casinos thanks to the robust framework that was put in place in 2004.

The Remote Gaming Regulations of Malta mark the first ever member of the European Union that regulates remote gambling activity. The MGA has set a precedent and remains to this day a flagship authority in the industry. Many global companies relocated to Malta for the lifestyle, the strong regulatory system, and favourable taxes. The job of the MGA is to set higher standards for gambling companies, and as such, it only issues a licence to companies that meet those standards.

To get a licence from the MGA, a company must meet a set of criteria including:

  • Sufficient finances for the business
  • Service competency
  • Fairness
  • Integrity
  • Transparent structure of ownership
  • No criminal connections

If at any point a licensed company breaks the rules set by MGA, the authority can retract its licence instantly. Every year, the MGA publishes a report to recap its achievement and performance in the online gambling industry. The reports also show the latest stats for the sector and plans for the future.

Generally speaking, the MGA has a vision to achieve the following:

  • Ensure security for the players
  • Ensure transparency of the casinos
  • Safeguard the vulnerable and the minors
  • Impede gambling-related criminal activities
  • Protect the players’ funds and personal information
  • Monitor the activities of the companies it licenses
  •  Ensure fairness in gambling

Infrastructure and telecommunication

Malta is one of the smallest countries in the world, and it’s the smallest member of the European Union. Since it has over half a million citizens, it’s the fourth most densely populated country. Despite the small size, though, Malta is a global hub for gamblers because of its infrastructure. The island has a reliable, modern telecommunications network. This is key to the success of online gambling companies. Its transportation infrastructure allows for seamless transport of services and goods throughout the country, and Malta also has an airport for easy access to main airports across Europe.

Taxes: Rules and benefits

Gambling online is highly beneficial and very popular these days. Why wouldn’t it be when you get access to more games than were ever imaginable in land-based casinos, and you can gamble at any time? Don’t even get us started on those great bonuses, especially the no-deposit offers such as the amazon slots bonus offer. Now, imagine all this in combination with a very appealing tax regime – for both players and gambling companies. That’s what Malta offers.

In Malta, gambling companies can retain a huge portion of their revenue. The corporate rate is 35%, but businesses can reclaim most of this sum as a rebate, so they basically pay 5% of their profits. Other advantages are exemptions, reduced rates, and tax credits. Even the personal tax regime is appealing in the country. Top earners pay a maximum of 35%. Professionals pay as low as 15%. In comparison, they pay almost half their winnings in taxes in other countries.

The cost to operate an online casino in Malta is much lower compared to that of other countries. Yes, the license for online gambling companies are not cheap and require a lot of documentation. But, here it is worth it because the benefits are big, too, and taxes are low. The best part about this is that the MGA is transparent with its taxes and fees. Aspiring casino companies can always see a detailed breakdown of all costs on the official website, including all details about gaming taxes, gaming service licenses, compliance dues, etc.

The workforce for Malta online casinos

Malta's workforce is highly skilled. This is great news for gambling companies since they can employ a multilingual, well-trained, and educated workforce. Many of the people in Malta speak several languages, which is ideal for casinos that operate online and in different markets.

What’s the Impact of online casinos in Malta on the economy?

The Maltese nation encourages growth in its gambling industry by offering beneficial protocols and operator-friendly taxes. In addition to this, Malta is a great place to live and operate a business within. The quality of life in Malta is high – which is another reason why online gambling companies choose it as a business location. Thanks to the many companies operating their businesses from Malta, including giants like Netent and Evolution Gaming, the economy of the country has thrived in the last few decades. This boosted their tourism, increased the rate of employment, and brought the country a lot of money in taxes.

Tourism and hospitality: How did the Malta casinos online impact these sectors?

The growth of the gambling industry in Malta has impacted tourism greatly. All those people visiting casinos, as well as the people who operate their companies from Malta need accommodation. They spend money on accommodation, as well as bars, restaurants, public transportation, taxis, and much more. Malta is also the host of some of the most famous iGaming events that also contribute greatly toward its economy and tourism.

Some of the most famous iGaming events in Malta are:

  • iGaming IDOL. This is an award show that celebrates the accomplishments of individuals and professionals in the iGaming world. 
  • The Malta Gaming Awards. Perhaps the biggest iGaming rewards event in the world, this resembles the Oscars – but for gambling. The Awards give recognition to the top companies, and all profits from the event go to charity.
  • SiGMA. This festival is held in the US, Europe, Asia, and Africa. In Malta, it’s a huge event that covers many topics including iGaming, cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technology.

Global recognition for Malta online casinos

Casinos that are licensed and operate in Malta can benefit greatly from the popularity of the MGA. MGA is known for its fairness, thoroughness, and strict rules and regulations. If a casino passes the scrutiny of the authority, it is considered safe and fair for players to use. After so many years of working on the market, MGA is the standard of quality for gambling authorities.

Malta’s gambling regulations open the doors for online casinos to offer their services to a very big market of gamblers. Today, MGA-licensed companies can offer services to players from over 180 countries in the world. Their list includes most countries in the European Union, as well as India, the UK, Japan, Canada, Russia, Kazakhstan, etc. Still, there are some countries that are excluded from this list. This includes the US and its overseas territories, which means that Americans or people in the country cannot gamble at MGA-licensed online gambling sites. Other countries include Iran and North Korea since they are on the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force.

With great regulations and a good tax system, Malta has swiftly grown into a global hotspot for gamblers and gambling companies. It has proficient human capital, a great standard of living, and advantageous tax policies – which make it one of the top locations for online gambling companies. By having an MGA license, casinos ensure their players that they are secure and fair – and can reach millions of people from different countries worldwide. The rise of Malta as a casino hub has been great and based on what we’ve seen so far – it will continue to grow in the future.