Malta’s pro-active approach in regulatory matters has immediately placed it on the map as an attractive destination for the large majority of serious gaming operators. Since the inception of the iGaming industry in Malta, the country has responded to market needs to provide a suitable regulatory framework, which in turn has transformed Malta into a strong hub for numerous iGaming operators and just under 15,000 remote gaming employees.
The new Gaming Act that came into force on 1st August 2018 has brought about a number of changes aimed at improving the already strong iGaming Jurisdiction while addressing the need of narrowing down the gap between law and technology.
B2C and B2B
One of the main changes is the categorisation of operators. A B2C operator does no longer need to get a new licence for every new platform, but can instead plug and play with the large variety of licensed B2Bs on the island. This has eliminated duplication of requirements and simplified regulatory burdens to focus on what is strictly necessary and justified while adopting a risk-based approach.
Another main thrust that the new act has brought about is the reduction in gaming tax aimed at incentivising continued growth of the B2B market. This reduction in fees and the fact that Malta’s B2B operators can on-board a wider variety of B2C clients is definitely a game changer.
The new Gaming Act saw the role of the key official segmented into different functions to ensure direct scrutiny and targeted supervisory controls on behalf of the authority. This move can be closely associated to the UKGC’s PML holders and undoubtedly raises the bar for those individuals with responsibility within a gaming operation.
Other thrusts of the new act include a moratorium on licence fees payable by start-ups subject to certain criteria being met, the duration of a licence being extended to 10 years from five, the revamping of the player protection and responsible gaming measures, the concept of administration to protect operations in distress, automated and facilitated reporting obligations with an online tool for submitting new applications and monthly reports, and decreasing unnecessary regulatory burdens.
The new act also ushered in the ‘Mutual Recognition Principle’ whereby the authority will recognise equivalent gaming licences issued by other jurisdictions. This recognition is not automatic but rather subject to operators notifying the authority with their gaming operation and thus enabling the authority to maintain adequate controls over same.
The introduction of a ‘Corporate Licence’ is also a key change in the new act. A corporate licence would enable an operator with a global structure to have both its Maltese entity and its other subsidiaries under the same licence in order to be able to offer services within the group. This means that if a licence is issued for a corporate group, the approved members of the group would be jointly and severally considered as the licensee.
The revamp of Malta’s gaming framework will ensure the sustainability of the industry in the years to come. Coupled with the MGA’s recent decision to launch a sandbox framework for the use of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology by iGaming operators, it will provide a springboard for further growth, regulatory focus and most importantly, innovation across multiple fronts.
Roger A. Strickland Jr. gives consultancy to companies setting up in Malta, assisting them with making the right choices, understanding the licencing and regulatory requirements as well as supporting them with setting up their respective Malta-based operations. With a wide network of contacts and know-how within the iGaming industry, Roger holds a wealth of experience and brings key stakeholders together.