The island of Malta is known for its fantastic weather, crystal blue waters, caves, architecture and is even quite a popular location for film sets! Furthermore, over the years Malta has become a hub for technology, spawning a wave of cryptocurrency and iGaming companies who have set up shop on the archipelago.
But why has the island become so popular for iGaming? And what makes Malta so attractive? Being one of the first countries to embrace iGaming and possibly regulate the industry, Malta is now home to over 300 iGaming companies. The industry also accounts for over 10% of Malta’s GDP, contributing €1.56bn in 2019 alone. It also employs over 7,000 people.
Malta is the ideal location for iGaming companies for a multitude of reasons. Besides the great climate and easy-going lifestyle, Malta offers a robust regulatory system, to the benefit of iGaming companies. This is why, in addition to the many that open up there, multiple international companies are relocating. The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) also plays a major role by offering initiatives that ensure Malta remains a competitive iGaming hub. It has definitely built a reputation as a professional jurisdiction.
Whilst being a huge attraction to iGaming companies, Malta has also seen success in attracting talent from across the globe. Many online casinos operating out of Malta offer their services in various geographically disperse markets such as Canada, Sweden, Finland, Austria and Japan. As such, you can expect their workplace to be very diverse, helping to enrich Malta’s expatriate demographic. Most who relocate are incentivised by Malta’s alluring mix of charm, work-life balance, great salaries, cost of living and over 300 days of sunshine! It’s often the case that iGaming companies will even offer a relocation package to new recruits as further incentive, if ever it were needed – making the transition that much easier.
Growth of iGaming Industry
As mentioned, the MGA has placed a strong focus on making Malta a country for iGaming excellence. Being one of the first in the European Union to regulate the industry, the regulatory body has set high standards for the casinos that have been granted their license. Companies can apply for one or all of the four types of licenses:
- Class 1 – Games of chance where outcome is determined by random generator (Casino Style Games, Lotteries and Slots);
- Class 2 – Games of chance where outcome is determined by the result of an event or competition (Sports betting);
- Class 3 – Games of chance where operator generates revenue by taking a commission based on the stakes or the prize (P2P, Betting Exchanges, Skins, Tournaments and Bingo);
- Class 4 – Controlled skilled games.
The MGA has made the process straightforward and has issued over 500 licenses since it started operating.
Other incentives for iGaming companies relocating to Malta include the Income Tax Act specifically for international companies. Companies in Malta pay 35% tax, but most of this is refunded to its shareholders if they are non-Maltese, effectively bringing the tax level down to a meagre 5%. There’s also financing available for digital gaming start-ups in new markets that demonstrate potential for job creation and growth. What’s more, companies can also get tax credits for research and development of new digital gaming projects.
The Maltese government plays an important role in creating the best possible environment for the iGaming industry. Its education system has readjusted to the growing demands for specialists, thereby increasing the supply of experts. Addressing the needs of the industry, the iGaming Academy was formed to provide a major source for training and development, while a new incentive called Why iGaming, aimed at Maltese residents, has also been created to fill the skills gap.
Despite the countless setbacks presented to businesses this year by the COVID-19 pandemic, the iGaming business has no intention of slowing down, and unlike other industries, has shown remarkable resilience in the face of the global downturn. And, although there are slight issues sourcing talent, tied to a need to outsource, iGaming remains a big employer in Malta. Another iGaming vertical, sports betting, meanwhile, has seen a decline due to the outbreak, however online casinos are flourishing and there are incentives to build the sector further. In light of the pandemic, Malta Enterprise launched a €5.3 million research and development fund, to which iGaming companies are encouraged to apply.
The iGaming industry has no plans of slowing down in Malta!