Before the launch of online casinos around the world, few would have thought that such a small, independent country as Malta would, only two decades later, find itself as one of the key nations in the international interactive gaming landscape. Indeed, the state did not even become a part of the European Union until 2004, alongside Cyprus following a national referendum that took place over the previous year. However, this development proved pivotal in the country, launching itself to the forefront of the gaming industry in Europe.
Unlike other countries in Europe that were, and still are thrashing out their online and mobile gambling laws, Malta decided to become something of a market leader. They were already well-stocked with relatively low cost but highly skilled labour forces, evidenced by the fact that they are now not only one of the leading European licensing choices among mobile casinos, but also significant financial institutions and fund managers. Indeed, the decision to become something of a gambling regulation centre was taken long before they even joined the EU, with the Lotteries and Other Games Act 2001 legalizing remote gambling in all forms. Even today, alongside the UK’s Gambling Act 2005, it is one of only two gambling bills that are fully approved as complying with the EU internal market.
While the lack of suitable laws may be somewhat surprising, it makes sense in the context of other countries in Europe. Sweden, for example, is known to be one of the potential hotbeds of mobile gambling in the world, even being the home of Net Entertainment, one of the largest casino software providers in the world. However, their mobile gambling laws are in strict contradiction of the EU free market laws, restricting as they do the right of foreign companies to advertise their services in the country.
Various factors within the country itself govern its viability as a market leader in gaming regulation. One such law that applies only in the country is the Highly Qualified Person rule, which was initially created to ease the influx of senior banking staff to the country. It now extends to senior officers at mobile casino operators and offers incentives such as reduced income tax in skilled roles.
Malta has always looked to expand its role as a regulator in the industry within the EU and does so by offering to share information and expertise with other countries to bring their licencing laws up to speed. One agreement that is already in place is one with the Gaming Authority of Denmark, who are actively seeking to bring their remote gambling laws up to speed with the market leaders.
For players themselves, the most significant influence of Malta on their gaming experience is their actual awarding of licences to operators. Some of our most highly recommended mobile casinos, including Casino Euro Mobile and Platinum Play Mobile, operate exclusively under grants awarded by the Lotteries and Gaming Authority of Malta. Even the UK does not currently go so far as to offer licences to international operators in the same capacity, making Malta unquestionably the most valuable EU regulatory licence that a company can acquire at present.