Remote gaming is a cornerstone of the Maltese economy – representing 12 percent of Gross Domestic Product - and Malta has consistently been on the front foot with applying legislation to help foster the industry and attract big companies to do business on the island.
Malta is widely considered to be a jurisdiction of excellence for the gaming industry, particularly for remote gaming. As well as a thought leader through regulation of blockchain technology which complements the remote gaming sector.
The first online gaming site was set up in Malta in 2000 under an older law: The Operation of Betting Offices Regulations (S.L. 70.04), which was set up to regulate offshore betting offices.
Malta was the first European Union Member State to specifically regulate remote gaming back in April 2004, when it issued The Remote Gaming Regulations (S.L. 438.04), shortly before joining the EU in May of that year.
In August 2018, the government of Malta did a major overhaul to the legislation and replaced it with the Gaming Act (Chapter 583 of the Laws of Malta) and as a result all subsidiary legislation came into effect with its introduction.
The new gaming regulations, which are applied by the Malta Gaming Authority are technology and game-neutral, which means that they cover any type of gaming, while also looking to the future. The Gaming Act has introduced a horizontal approach to regulation. Under the older laws, a multi-licensing system existed.
Compliance contributions have replaced licence fees and licence holders can now accept crypto currencies for bets as well as awarding prizes in crypto currency through the use of blockchain and distributed ledger technology.
The Act has also provided for the expansion of the MGA’s supervisory and enforcement functions and capabilities, so it can perform better and meet its regulatory objectives. The Act has also introduced an administrative review process, which allows for appeal against disputed MGA decisions.
The Act also distinguishes between games of skill and games of chance. Skill games do not require a licence whereas games of chance do.
Gambling licence holders are subject to the Prevention of Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism Regulations (SL 373.01 of the Laws of Malta) and are held responsible for compliance with anti-money laundering obligations. This includes, but is not limited to, due diligence procedures when single or multiple transactions of €2,000 or over are made.
Under the Act, the MGA forbids the issuance of credit against gaming activities; offering games to minors or other vulnerable persons; and including unfair terms for participants.
The MGA’s main powers include:
- Regulating, supervising and reviewing all practices, operations and activities relating to the gaming sector;
- Promoting the general interests of players and consulting with, informing and guiding the public;
- Ensuring that the advertisement of gaming services is fair and responsible;
- Receiving and investigating complaints by players and assisting and promoting timely, fair and competent dispute resolution;
- Advising the government on the formulation of policies connected with the gaming sector;
- Examining the suitability of any person engaged or employed in any gaming activity;
- Granting licences, approvals, recognitions or other authorisations;
- Ensuring high standards of conduct and management throughout the gaming sector;
- Preventing, detecting and ensuring the prosecution of any offence against gaming laws;
- General prohibitions and restrictions