The Mediterranean island of Malta has evolved into the unlikely hub for Europe’s biggest iGaming operators, benefitting from an enhanced pool of talent and the increasing take-up of its well-respected iGaming legislation.
In 2019, the iGaming industry in Malta contributed a staggering €1.56 billion to the Maltese economy – a 9.6% year-on-year rise demonstrating that there is plenty more legs in the island’s iGaming capabilities yet. Last year, there was a 3.9% rise in the number of casino brands in operation in Malta. LeoVegas is one such operator specialising in online casino and mobile casino gaming to situate its company headquarters in Sliema, Malta. That’s despite the LeoVegas brand starting out in Sweden and being listed on the Nasdaq Stockholm.
One of the main reasons why Malta became the pinnacle of iGaming excellence was the nation’s agility to design and launch its very own iGaming jurisdictions. In doing so, the country stole a march on most other European nations with a vested interest in iGaming. The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has since become a bastion for online casino excellence, ensuring fairness and transparency across a site’s full suite of casino games, with online slots required to be periodically tested by independent third-parties for compliance purposes.
The country created 7,417 iGaming jobs for new and experienced professionals in 2019, which also represented a 9.2% year-on-year increase. The vast majority (6,593) of which were situated in the online gaming sector, spanning online and live dealer casinos, as well as online sportsbooks. In fact, well-established iGaming brands like LeoVegas have sought to provide all three of those iGaming services under one umbrella, in a bid to hoover up consumer demand across all key areas.
In terms of Malta’s infrastructure, it is well-placed to work closely with British and other English-speaking iGaming brands. It is now the only official anglophone member state within the European Union (EU). Its commercial space also proves considerably cheaper than most other European tech hubs, particularly London and Paris. The Mediterranean climate is an easy attraction to entice talent from mainland Europe too.
It helps too that the nation’s corporation tax rules are highly beneficial. In essence, the nation’s corporation tax is 5%. That’s because although Maltese companies pay a standard rate of 35% corporation tax initially, 6/7ths of this can be refunded to companies with non-Maltese shareholders. Although this may not be a policy designed to incentivise iGaming companies to employ and promote Maltese iGaming executives, it has certainly provided a base for brands to thrive.
At the other end of the spectrum, it’s also heartening to see the MGA take its industry-leading reputation seriously by tightening its grip on enforcing its regulations. Last year, some 14 online casino sites that were previously licensed by the MGA were closed down due to irregularities – up from eight closures in 2018 and just three in 2017. The MGA also suspended a further 11 operators last year.
The MGA’s commitment to compliance and transparent governance has not put off reputable operators from seeking licenses here. In 2019, they approved 53 out of 89 new license applications, taking the full total of licensed iGaming firms in Malta to 294. With continued investment in live dealer casino technology and iGaming software development, the country is well-placed to lead the way for immersive next-generation casino gaming in the years ahead.