Malta may only have a population of just over half a million people. However, the small island has become one of the most significant players within the global iGaming industry. Over the past two decades, the interest in online gambling has exploded, with new technology and improved regulations helping to make casino platforms and sports betting sites more enjoyable and safer.
In 2021, the global online gambling industry was worth more than $61 billion (€56.9 billion), and this figure is expected to grow to $114 billion (€96.9 billion) by the end of 2028. Europe is one of the world's biggest gambling markets, but new regulations in regions such as Latin America are helping to fuel further growth. If you're wondering where Malta fits into all this, read on to find out.
The beginning of online casinos in Malta
Back in 1994, the very first online casino launched, using specialised software to offer simple roulette and blackjack games that could be played for real money. Just like at a real casino, players could gamble on the outcome of games. However, there was no way to know whether the games were fair or that the outcomes couldn't be affected by the casino.
Early online casinos suffered from a lack of transparency and often failed to gain the trust of players who would otherwise have been happy to sign up. In addition, deposits and withdrawals were often complicated due to payment providers not wanting to associate with unregulated online gambling. As a result, these sites were seen as unsafe, and few people used them.
Today, things couldn't be more different. The best online casinos Malta use high-definition graphics and software that can be verified as fair and safe. You can find out more at online-gambling.com/malta. Regulations are perhaps one of the most important factors in the improvement of online casino gaming, and this is where Malta has played a large role.
The Malta Gaming Authority
When the first online casinos appeared in Malta, players were hesitant to sign up as they were unregulated and unsafe. However, the Maltese government recognised the potential of the industry and set about creating an organisation to licence and regulate these casino platforms.
The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) was established in 2001, with the intention of setting clear and reasonable guidelines for online casinos and betting sites to follow. This organisation now fully controls the iGaming industry within Malta, and it's also responsible for licensing sites that operate overseas.
How the MGA licence works
The main goal of the MGA is to ensure gaming services are fair and transparent, protecting players from rigged games or withheld payments. It does this by offering licences, which casinos need to apply for and pass strict tests to hold. The MGA licensing process is extremely rigorous, ensuring that all sites are held to the highest standards.
When casinos apply for a gaming licence, they need to show their business plan and prove they have the right systems in place to offer a great service to players. This also includes an analysis of the company's finances and all its terms and conditions. Licensed casinos will also need to prove that game software is completely fair and based on random chance.
As a result of this, many players see the MGA licence as a mark of quality and know they can trust the site they're joining. The MGA licence allows online gambling platforms to legally operate in most of the EU, as well as several overseas markets, making it a worthwhile process for iGaming companies to complete.
How Malta attracted iGaming giants
The Malta Gaming Authority licence is only half of the reason why the island has become such a hub for the growth of the iGaming industry. Aside from offering an excellent regulatory framework for online casino Malta platforms, the country also put effort into encouraging the biggest names in the industry to settle on the island.
Before the rise of the online gambling industry, Malta was largely dependent on tourism, though it has also started concerted efforts to attract telecommunications and information technology companies. Wanting to diversify the economic potential of the country, the government set about providing opportunities for this new industry to thrive and grow.
Betsson became the first of the iGaming giants to establish themselves in Malta and has continued to grow since. The company recently delivered record earnings as it aimed to capitalise on new iGaming markets, especially in Latin America. In total, there are more than 300 online gambling companies based across the island, including Evolution Gaming and Kindred Group.
Favourable tax laws
When compared to a lot of other jurisdictions within the EU, Malta has favourable tax rates, which makes it ideal for iGaming companies. There's a flat five per cent tax rate on all gaming revenue from companies based on the island, while a 35 per cent corporate tax rate is in place for remote gaming operators. This helps iGaming businesses keep costs down while growing and establishing themselves in the industry.
Licence fees vary depending on the type of platform and the services offered. However, there are several different licences available, giving operators the freedom to choose the one they can afford. In addition, the government offers startup funds and support to help new businesses grow and thrive.
The future of Malta as an iGaming hub
Malta didn't become an iGaming hub overnight. It got there through years of planning, investment and the right market conditions. And so, the country aims to keep its place as one of the leaders in the industry, it must continue to work and adapt to changes. The industry is moving at a faster pace than ever, as competition between operators and new technology is creating new opportunities.
In recent years, mobile gaming has become one of the biggest trends. A growing number of players now access their preferred platforms on their mobile devices, and regulations have had to adapt to this. New technologies such as blockchain and AI could prove to be disruptive, and it's important that regulations are in place to protect players and ensure that online casinos in Malta are trusted and safe.