The future of the gaming landscape in Malta remains positive

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) announced in April that it had recorded a record-high number of players on Malta-licensed gaming sites in the first half of 2022, with 1.56 million registered players. This represented a 15.8% increase in active player accounts year-over-year, which it attributed to the impact of the pandemic in causing a shift towards digital entertainment.

The number of companies offering online gaming services from Malta stood at 346 at the end of June 2022, up from 319 at the end of June 2021. Of these the number of B2C Gaming Service Licences rose from 192 to 199 and the number of B2B Critical Supply Licences rose from 135 to 154, while the number of additional companies falling under a Corporate Group Licence rose from 158 to 169. The number of employees working in Malta in the online sector rose from 9,496 to 10,106 over the same period.

“While the local and international developments which took place over the past few years – from the global pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war to the country’s temporary grey listing – posed a threat to the stability of Malta’s robust gaming industry, the sector appears to have emerged in a stronger position,” said the MGA in its Interim Report for 2022.

According to the National Statistics Office, the Gross Value Added (GVA) generated by the gaming industry in Malta, both online and land-based, in the first half of 2022 stood at €573 million, up from €510 million in the first half of 2021, and representing about 8% of the economy’s total GVA. When the indirect effects are included, the contribution of the industry to the economy value added amounts to just over 10%.

“The resilience of the Maltese gaming industry during these trying times is largely attributed to its ability to remain flexible and adapt to change, while being supported by the MGA’s continued efforts to ensure that Malta remains a competitive and reputable jurisdiction of establishment,” said the MGA.

However, the MGA warned, regulatory developments in individual markets served by firms licensed in Malta continued to adversely impact the activity of the online gaming sector, leading to a situation where the markets available to B2C operators licensed in Malta was becoming increasingly restricted within the EU/EEA.

The need to comply with different regulatory frameworks in different countries was forcing operators to beef up their compliance teams, putting pressure on profit margins. Mergers and acquisitions had continued to be the preferred strategy for operators to boost corporate performance and maximise competitiveness.

Another key driver of potential change being closely monitored was the proposed introduction of a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15% for companies with a combined annual turnover of more than €750 million. The MGA said it had been intensifying efforts to ensure that a sustainable strategy for the gaming industry was in place.

The decision of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to remove Malta from its grey list in June 2022 had contributed to restoring the country’s credibility and to giving Malta the opportunity to continue building on its ecosystem as a major global iGaming jurisdiction.

The Maltese government, it said, remained consistent in its support to sustain the gaming industry, continuing to implement a long-standing policy that gaming is an entertainment service which can be freely provided from Malta to Maltese consumers, as well as consumers abroad, in a safe and well-regulated environment.

“Overall, the future of the gaming landscape in Malta remains positive,” said the MGA. “The gaming industry is expected to continue to play a fundamental role in Malta, backed by a sound and robust regulatory framework and an economic environment which provides for the required human resources and operational infrastructures.

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