A comprehensive guide to gaming in Malta

What many don’t know is that Malta is a hub for both land-based and online casinos

Formerly known as Melita, Malta is a Southern European island country based in the Mediterranean Sea. A population of approximately 515,000, it is one of the world’s smallest countries and a popular destination for tourists with the official language being Maltese and English coming in as a close second official language.

A warm climate, architectural and historic landmarks (including three different UNESCO World Heritage Sites), and numerous recreational areas and activities available for visitors, it’s no wonder that people flock to the island every year. In fact, recent statistics show that there are three times more tourists populating the area than residents, with 1.6 million tourists taking a trip to see the sites every year. There’s certainly nothing generic about it.

But what many don’t know is that Malta is a hub for both land-based and online casinos. Read on to find out more.

Malta’s top casinos

There are presently four land based casinos based in Malta that are frequented by both tourists and residents alike. The first of these is Casino Malta by Olympic Casino. Located at Eden Place, it’s the newest casino on the island having been opened at the end of 2015. It’s also the largest, with a mix of Las Vegas entertainment and games, at 3000 square meters. The casino is home to 29 tables including 10 poker tables and 300 slot machines. On weekends you can check out a show by various artists or chill out in the comfortable bar lounge.

Then there’s the Dragonara Casino. Housed in an incredible 19th-century seaboard summer palace, it’s retained much of its original architecture and interior design features. First converted to a casino back in 1964, it went through an extensive refurbishment program in 2010 and now features exciting design and some of the world’s best gaming equipment, with more than 300 slot machines, 18 live table games and more. Open 24 hours a day, they also offer hospitality packages including lunch and dinner in their celebrated brasserie.

Based on Qawra Seafront in the tourist town of Bugibba, the Oracle Casino hosts a variety of daily poker tournaments, cash games and gaming tables as well as slots machines. Visitors can also bet live in the casino’s Sports Lounge which offers cold drinks and pizzas daily, or enjoy live entertainment at the Oracle Casino Bistro, which hosts Mediterranean cuisine.

Lastly, there’s the Portomaso Casino. Based in St Julian's, the district for the best of Maltese nightlife, the Portomaso Casino is part of the leisure complex of Portomaso and is open 24/7. With a minimum entry age of 18 for foreigners and 25 for Maltese locals, it’s become a regular hotspot for gambling, leisure, entertainment, drinking and dining.

With table games including Puntobanco, Ultimate Hold’em, Blackjack, Roulette and more as well as slot machines, there’s a great selection for patrons to enjoy. Amenities include free parking, a bar and restaurant, cafeteria, free wifi and more. The casino is known for hosting international poker events as well as cash games and daily tournaments.

But what about online gaming?

While Malta may only have 4 land-based casinos the online gaming market is flourishing. That’s because Malta is renowned throughout the world as the industry gold standard for casino regulation. As an EU Member state, the regulating authority responsible for overseeing all gaming regulations is the Malta Gaming Authority.

Established in 2001 to regulate various sectors of the gaming industry the online gambling sector has grown ever since its inception; the industry now generates over 12% of the country’s GDP, bringing in big names from the international online gambling scene.

What are the benefits for getting a gaming license in Malta?

There’s a reason why so many international brands come to Malta when looking for a gaming license. The gambling license comes with a lot of prestige, as it’s considered one of the most respected in the world. Patrons know that to have a license from the country means they’ll be a getting fair, transparent and honest gambling experience.

The stability of the society both socially and economically is another reason for operators to seek out a gambling license from Malta. The Maltese government are also well known for being very welcoming to international businesses, which makes for an adaptable and flexible regulatory environment for those companies wishing to seek a license from the country.

Other benefits include access to more markets, the ability to advertise products and the platform throughout EU markets, tax benefits and more.

Is it difficult to get a Malta gambling license?

It’s not easy — but that’s one of the reasons that patrons can trust operators who have them. Authorities want to ensure they’re working with honest and reputable companies to keep the reputation of their jurisdiction intact. This means that to acquire the Maltese license there’s a lot of time and paperwork involved, as well as in-person interviews in order to properly implement CFT/AML, responsible gaming and underage gaming policies.

This might mean that a Malta gambling license might not be the best option for smaller operators, like startup brands, but definitely one that’s a great option for large scale, multinational companies.

Ultimately, Malta is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a fun land based casino experience, as well as an incredible tourist destination. And if you’re a fan of online casino games, it may be that the platform you play on may be operating with a gaming license issued by the MGA.

This post was written and contributed by Scott Shaw and published in accordance with our disclosure policy