Malta e-Gaming License: Application Process & Support
The terms “gaming”, “gambling” and “iGaming” “online gaming”, “online gambling” are used interchangeably in most contexts. Although the main legislation in Malta refers primarily to gaming, the other terms are also used, and are generally understood both in the laws and in this document to be referring to the same thing.
There are quite a few reasons why you should select Malta for a license:
- Low gaming tax;
- Lower licensing fees compared to other jurisdictions;
- Malta enjoys a high level of economic and political stability;
- Malta iGaming industry is well-regulated in the interest of both the players and the operators;
- Malta has established an excellent telecom and IT infrastructure with outstanding levels of availability and stability;
- Malta’s enactment of laws in relation to blockchain and other fintech services makes it a leading iGaming environment;
- Probably the most important advantage for Malta lies in its membership of the European Union – see more about this below.
Provisions of European Union law, jurisdiction and precedence relevant to gaming
Individual countries can, and do, set their own fundamental laws concerning gaming operations, in some cases restricting them in some form, and in others permitting gaming freely. The applicable principles are that the law of any country from which the gaming license was obtained applies as a matter of principle, but also that the law of any other state or states receiving the service is also relevant.
What is most important for international operations is that if a company based in a country inside the European Union has a gambling license, its services can be aimed at participants throughout the EU – a potential market of over half a billion people. This comes about through the EU Freedom of Establishment law and from judgments of the European Court of Justice (see especially European Court of Justice ruling of 9th September 2010 – C316/07).
Because of this, with a license from Malta, gaming services can be offered throughout the EU without restriction, as any local limits or bars on gambling would breach the freedom to provide services.
Malta gaming industry
The online gaming industry in Malta got its kick-off in 2004 when Malta became the first EU Member State to enact legislation on remote gaming. Malta is widely regarded as the most advantageous jurisdiction in the world in which to establish a gaming operation. The iGaming industry in Malta benefits from a government approach that limits bureaucracy and keeps in step with global trends and developments. Malta already has the largest base of operators and is continuing to build on its success. Over the next few years, there will be updates of regulations and plans are in place to sustain the industry’s growth.
Licensees, both local and overseas, operating under Maltese gaming legislation are benefitting from the advanced technical capability and relatively low labor costs of the local workforce. Two new projects known as Gaming Malta and the Gaming Academy will ensure that Malta will continue to be considered by the gaming industry as a center of excellence.
Requirements for a Malta gambling license
The online Malta license requirements are defined in the regulations of the Malta Gaming Authority. The Gaming Authorisations Regulations provide that a game of chance, or a game of chance and skill, cannot be operated, promoted or sold by any person in Malta unless it is authorized to be operated through a licensed entity.
As a member of the European Union, Malta applies a ‘recognition’ regime in terms of which a gaming operator licensed in another EU or EEA Member State or in an approved territory is permitted to offer its games in Malta or from Malta, and to enter into business-to-business (B2B) agreements with Malta-based gaming licensees. This means that unless you already hold a license from some other EU country, you must obtain a Mala gaming license in order to offer gaming facilities from Malta.
Malta licenses for gambling, online casino and gaming
In April 2014, Malta published regulations controlling gaming and gambling under the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). In August 2018, the regulations were replaced by the Gaming Act in 2018, so all references to gaming law in this document relate to the 2018 Act.
Under the Malta law, holders of gambling licenses are permitted to offer both online and land-based gambling, such as casino gaming, commercial tombola and communication games, sports betting, gaming devices, remote gaming, a National Lottery or other lotteries, and others.
Under the Gaming Act, there are two classes of remote gaming licenses.
- Critical Gaming Supply license (aka B2B license): a business-to-business license to supply a gaming service for a separate corporate entity;`
- Gaming Service license (aka B2C license): a business-to-consumer license offering a service to end customers. Under a B2C class license, there are 4 types of games:
- Type 1 – Games of chance played against the house, the outcome of which is determined by a random generator, and shall include casino type games, including roulette, blackjack, baccarat, poker played against the house, lotteries, secondary lotteries and virtual sports games;
- Type 2 – Games of chance played against the house, the outcome of which is not generated randomly, but is determined by the result of an event or competition extraneous to a game of chance, and whereby the operator manages his or her own risk by managing the odds offered to the player;
- Type 3 – Games of chance not played against the house and wherein the operator is not exposed to gaming risk, but generates revenue by taking a commission or other charge based on the stakes or the prize, and shall include player versus player games such as poker, bingo, betting exchange, and other commission-based games;
- Type 4 – Controlled skill games as per regulation 8 of the Gaming Authorisations Regulations. The main relevance of the different gaming types is in determining the level of the gaming tax collected by the state. More about this later in the document;
A licensee is subject to minimum issued and paid-up share capital requirements based on the Malta gaming license types:
- Type 1 & Type 2 – Minimum €100,000
- Type 3 & Type 4 – Minimum €40,000;
- Companies with multiple type approvals are required to meet the above share capital requirements cumulatively up to a minimum capping of €240,000.
What are the requirements for the Maltese gaming license?
The basic requirements for a Malta online gambling license are summarized here:
- Licensing criteria are determined by whether the offering is a gaming service (B2C) or a gaming supply (B2B), regardless of whether the offering is physically based in Malta, or runs remotely under the license;
- If the gaming service is claimed to fall within more than one of the four game types referred to above, the MGA has full discretion to categorize the game in the way it considers best reflects its nature;
- There are no provisions under the Maltese gaming laws that limit the number of available licenses;
- MGA has the power to refuse authorizations if it believes that the gaming offering is not compliant with the regulations or may pose a risk to the reputation of Malta or the public interest;
- Directors, officers and owners of the company requesting the license are required to undergo a suitability assessment, based on due diligence documentation and probity assessments with other national and international regulatory bodies and enforcement agencies.
Malta casino license and Cruise Casino license
There are differences in some criteria between land-based casinos located inside Malta, and virtual casino operations on iGaming services. These differences relate primarily to the allowed minimum age of gamblers, which for Malta citizens is 25, instead of the minimum of 18 for non-residents.
An operator of a cruise casino requires a non-transferable casino permit for the time during which the cruise ship is moored at or within Maltese territory, and only regarding registered passengers of the cruise ship.
Procedure for obtaining a Malta Gaming license
Regulations for obtaining a Malta online casino license or online gaming license stipulate three initial steps in the process of application:
- Malta Gaming Authority has defined a ‘Fit & Proper Test’ for assessing information relating to all owners and any person involved in administration. It includes a probity investigation that can involve other national and international regulatory and law enforcement agencies. For each person, a police certificate of good conduct issued within the last three months is required as well as bank references of all owners/applicants dated within the last three months together with notarized copies of passports of all owners/applicants;
- The agency will conduct an in-depth financial analysis of the business plan, which must have a detailed forecast of the operation, including marketing and distribution, human resources and growth targets;
- The agency will conduct a study of corporate documentation, policies and procedures, rules, terms, conditions and procedures of the games to be offered.
Once all three areas are successfully completed, if the application was successful, the MGA will permit 60 days to complete the set-up a trial implementation of the planned operation, after which they can request a system review performed by an independent 3rd party selected by the MGA at the applicant’s expense. The review will audit the live environment to validate it against the proposed application. Any significant changes between the plan and the actual system will require the applicant to re-apply in a completely new process.
On acceptance of the certification process, the Authority issues a five-year license and after going live there must be a number of compliance reviews of the operation, performed by independent 3rd parties contracted by the MGA at the operator’s expense. Failure of a compliance review could lead to suspension or termination of a license.
Malta company incorporation cost
A business wishing to establish a corporate presence in Malta must register with the Malta Business Registry, and take the necessary preliminary steps including paying the company registration fees, as follows:
The relevant official documentation for company formation, including certified copies of identification documents, references and declarations by trustees where applicable must be forwarded to the Registrar of Companies. Evidence of paid-up share capital in the form of a bank deposit advice should also be produced. Upon registration, the Registrar will issue a certificate of registration, showing that the company has been officially registered.
The company formation fees payable to the Malta Registrar of Companies for the registration of a company are calculated on the basis of the total authorised share capital, and the mode of payment, where electronic payment is considerably cheaper than for paper payment.
Preliminary expenses for search and reservation of a company name, the establishment of an approved bank account, documentation of the corporation’s Articles and so on must also be taken into account.
Malta gaming license cost
Malta online gambling license price is dependent on the class of license (B2B or B2C) and if it is B2C, then on the license types for services that are being offered. In all cases, a basic non-refundable fixed annual license fee is levied. For B2C type 1-3, the fee is €25,000, and for type 4, it is €10,000. On top of the basic license fee, a type-based compliance contribution fee is levied, based on the net revenue of the operation in the year reported. The online gambling license cost is payable on application and annually.
The calculation of the fee for each of the four license types is given on the MGA website as follows:
Malta gaming license countries
A Malta iGaming business-to-consumer license may be used in all countries that have not imposed any local prohibition or conditions on gaming. As noted above, within the European Union, the EU Freedom of Establishment law and subsequent Court of Justice ruling makes it impossible for EU member states to restrict gaming from Malta in any way. By agreement between Malta and the USA, American citizens are not permitted to gamble on any Malta gaming site.
MGA license registry
Malta license registry is a web-based portal through which visitors can search through the official registry for the name and public detail of any license holder registered in Malta.
Malta gaming authority review
The MGA has set up a process for regular review of licensees operations, as well as the full application review process for new license issuing and the periodic renewal of any existing Malta online gaming license.
Malta Gaming Tax
5% Gaming Tax is applied on gaming revenue generated from Malta-based players. Determination of taxability is whether the player is established, and has his permanent address or usually resides in Malta.
Malta Gaming Commission