Maltese law permits both online and land-based gambling, and the following forms of gambling are catered for: amusement games, casino gaming, commercial tombola games, commercial communication games, gaming devices, remote gaming, sports betting, the National Lottery and other lotteries, and non-profit games. These types of gambling fall under three categories – gaming, betting and lotteries.
The Lotteries and Other Games Act (LOGA)2 defines betting as the playing of a bet; a bet is defined as a game in which the player is required to forecast any result or outcome in respect of one event or a set of events. Betting may be divided into remote and land-based categories.
Land-based betting may be classified under one of two broad categories, namely:
- racecourse betting, which is a bet on a horse or dog race conducted on a racecourse; or
- sports betting, which is a bet on a sport event or a set of sport events.
Remote betting is defined as ‘the negotiation or receiving of any bet by a means of distance communication’.3 Fixed-odds betting, pool betting and spread betting would fall under this definition.
The National Lottery is Malta’s main lottery. The licence for the operation of all the National Lottery games is exclusive and was awarded to Maltco Lotteries Limited in 2012 for 10 years. By way of general information, the games that form part of the National Lottery are Super 5, Lotto, Scratchers Instant Tickets, U*Bet, Quick Keno and Bingo 75.
A remote gaming licensee may also provide online lotteries.
The Remote Gaming Regulations (RGRs)4 define ‘gaming’ as an agreement, scheme or arrangement between two or more parties to play a game of chance together in which a prize or reward consisting of money or some other item of value, worth, advantage or opportunity is offered or can be won, and becomes the property of the winner under defined conditions established for the purpose of the game. In this regard, the game’s result is totally accidental and therefore the player’s skill is not required.
On the other hand, a game of chance and skill is a game for money or prizes with a monetary value, the results of which are not totally accidental but depend, to a certain extent, on the skill of the participant. For example, poker would generally be deemed to be a game of chance and skill.
‘Remote gaming’ is defined in the RGRs as ‘any form of gaming by means of distance communications’. The same regulations specify that ‘means of distance communication’ includes:
any means which may be used for the communication, transmission, conveyance and receipt of information (including information in the form of data, text, images, sound or speech) or for the conclusion of a contract between two or more persons without the simultaneous physical presence of those persons.
The Skill Games Regulations (SGRs)5 define a ‘skill game’ as ‘a game for money or money’s worth and through means of distance communication, the result of which is determined by the use of skill alone or predominantly by the use of skill and is operated as an economic activity, but does not include a sport event’.6 Such skill games are exempt from the licensing requirement. Additionally, a ‘controlled skill game’ means a skill game that is subject to a licensing requirement in terms of the SGRs.
From the above analysis, ‘fantasy league’ (which offers a prize of money or money’s worth) may be classified as a game of chance and skill. According to a ruling7 given by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), ‘fantasy sports’ are defined as controlled skill games and would require a licence in terms of the SGRs.
Skill competitions and competitive sports for prizes would fall under pure skill game as there is no element of chance. Furthermore, gaming devices, which offer the possibility of winning a prize, are primarily regulated under the Gaming Device Regulations (GDRs).
Bingo and tombola halls are also regulated under Maltese law.
ii Gambling policy
Gambling has been present in Malta for centuries. In fact, lotto games are likely to have started operating in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, during this time, gambling was not regulated and it was only in 1922 that the Public Lotto Ordinance (PLO) was enacted, establishing the government monopoly for the organisation of lotto activities. In 1934 a subsequent law was enacted – the Racecourse Betting Ordinance (RBO), which sought to regulate horse and dog racing licences.
A few years later Malta sought to regulate gambling further by enacting the Kursaal Ordinance, which regulated casino activity. Said Ordinance was subsequently superseded by the Gaming Act,8 which sought to provide further controls and reinforcement of the regulatory framework for casinos.
In 2001, the Maltese legislator enacted the LOGA, which created and established the regulatory body – the MGA. The LOGA incorporated all gambling legislation into one single instrument, with the exception of casino gambling, which continued to be regulated by the Gaming Authority.
Remote gaming has been regulated in Malta since the year 2000, through amendments to the PLO. These regulations remained effective until the RGRs were promulgated in 2004. The new regulatory regime became both game-neutral and technology-neutral (applicable to all types of technologies, namely the internet, mobile and other types of remote gaming).
Today, Malta has established itself as a regulatory hub having issued hundreds of licences to various betting companies,9 making it one of the leading and most highly regarded European jurisdictions for the regulation of remote gaming. In fact, the European Court of Justice has referred to Malta’s gaming law framework as being sophisticated.10
iii State control and private enterprise
Gambling operations are not owned or operated by the state; however, the National Lottery may be conducted under ministerial authority, or by any person in whose favour a concession is granted.
iv Territorial issues
Gambling is regulated and licensed nationally.
v Offshore gambling
The LOGA provides 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 authorised to be operated under any law in Malta.
An exception to this rule is if the game is authorised to operate under any law enacted by a Member State of the EU, by a Member State of the European Economic Area (EEA) or by any jurisdiction or territory approved by the MGA. Therefore, Malta employs a ‘recognition’ regime in terms of which a gaming operator licence issued by another EEA Member State is permitted to offer its games in Malta, and also to enter into business-to-business (B2B) agreements with Malta-based licensees.
Malta also recognises a licence issued in respect of a remote gaming operator by a jurisdiction that falls outside of the EEA zone, but which is approved by the MGA.
The MGA requires the terms and conditions of the licensee to state that it is the player’s responsibility to establish whether their gaming activity is legal.11
II Legal and regulatory framework
i Legislation and jurisprudence
The LOGA caters for all types of gambling besides land-based casinos, which are regulated by the Gaming Act. The LOGA provides for the following:
- a general prohibition of games as outlined in Section i.v, supra;
- definitions as to what constitutes a ‘game’, a ‘game of chance’ and a ‘game of chance and skill’;12
- the structure of the MGA;
- racecourses and racing clubs, and the structure and functions of racecourse control boards;
- the way the National Lottery and other games such as non-profit games and commercial tombola games are licensed; and
- offences and penalties incurred for violating the provisions of the Act or regulations made thereunder.
The RGRs regulate remote gambling in Malta, whereby the main issues that are covered are the following:
- the way online operators are licensed;
- the criteria that a gaming system is required to fulfil in order to be approved by the MGA; and
- the requirements with respect to, among other matters, player registration, handling of funds, payout of winnings to players and advertising.
ii The regulator
The MGA is the primary regulatory body that is responsible for the governance of all gaming activities in Malta – both land-based and remote. Its main functions are to issue licences and to monitor the conduct of operators. Moreover, the MGA is also responsible for preventing, detecting and combatting criminal activity in gaming activities, ensuring that games are operated and advertised fairly and responsibly.
iii Remote and land-based gambling
As mentioned in subsection ii, supra, Maltese law regulates both remote and land-based gambling.
iv Land-based gambling
As a general rule, there is no limitation with regard to the number of licences that can be issued; however a concession must be obtained from the Minister of Finance. There are currently four licensed casinos operating in Malta: Dragonara Casino, Oracle Casino, The Casino at Portomaso and Casino Malta.
In April 2015, the MGA launched the Cruise Casino Regulations, wherein cruise liners are now able to operate their on-board casinos solely for registered passengers while berthing in Malta or Gozo overnight and within territorial waters.13
Lottery ticket sale venues
No person may sell games forming part of the National Lottery without a valid permit issued by the MGA. As of March 2018, there are around 240 Maltco Lotteries points of sale around the Maltese islands.
In order for gaming parlours (betting shops) to be issued with a licence (which is valid for 12 months) they have to be at least 75 metres away from the following premises:
- educational establishments (in 2015, language schools were removed from the list of establishments);14
- senior citizens care facilities;
- places of worship;
- general venues or infrastructure covering M.U.S.E.U.M, SATU, SEDQA, APPOGG, Caritas, and sports and training facilities; and
- playgrounds and playing fields.15
v Remote gaming
No person shall operate, promote, sell or abet remote gaming in or from Malta unless such person is in possession of a valid licence issued by the MGA, or is in possession of an equivalent authorisation by the government or competent authority of an EEA Member State, or any other jurisdiction approved by the MGA.
The RGRs establish four classes of licences as follows:
- Class 1 licence (examples include casino-type games and online lotteries) whereby operators manage their own risk on repetitive games. It is also possible to have a Class 1 on 4 licence whereby the Class 1 licensee operates its games on the software and in certain cases through the equipment of a Class 4 licensee;
- Class 2 (examples include fixed-odds betting), whereby operators manage their own risk on events based on a matchbook. It is possible to have a Class 2 on 4 licence whereby the Class 2 licensee operates its games on the software and in certain cases through the equipment of a Class 4 licensee;
- Class 3 – a licence to promote or abet remote gaming in or from Malta (examples of a Class 3 licence include poker networks, peer-to-peer (P2P) gaming and game portals). It is also possible to have a Class 3 on 4 licence whereby the Class 3 licensee operates its games on the software and in certain cases through the equipment of a Class 4 licensee; and
- Class 4 – a licence to host and manage remote gaming operators, excluding the licensee itself, whereby software vendors provide management and hosting facilities on their platform. In essence this is a B2B gaming licence.
A controlled skill game shall not be organised in or provided from Malta unless it is licensed according to the terms of the SGRs, is in possession of an equivalent authorisation by the government or competent authority of an EEA Member State, or is exempt from the requirement of a licence under the LOGA or any other law.
The SGRs establish a ‘controlled skill game service licence’ that is available for operators transacting directly with players (B2C) and a ‘controlled skill game supply licence’ that is available for B2B service providers offering the gaming platform to controlled skill game service licensees. Licensees are to provide all the geographic locations and addresses of the premises where the technical infrastructure hosting gaming systems, control systems and regulatory data will be located.
In the event that a licensee has the intention of maintaining systems in a cloud environment, said applicant must provide the MGA with a complete list of all geographic locations and addresses of premises where the infrastructure may or will be used.
When assessing a proposal or application, the MGA will take into account the geographic location of the critical components. A component of an operator’s system is considered to be ‘critical’ when an increased regulatory or business integrity, safety, privacy and compliance risk is present.
Furthermore, the MGA requires that the infrastructure must be located in Malta, any EEA Member State or in any other third-country jurisdiction wherein the MGA is satisfied that the same regulatory principles can be applied.
vi Ancillary matters
The licensing or sale of remote gaming software does not create the requirement for a Maltese licence unless the vendor is managing the software for the gaming operator.
With respect to gaming devices (which offer the possibility of winning a prize), the relevant licence is required in order to manufacture, assemble, service, supply, use or operate such device. In this respect:
- a Class 1 licence is required for the purposes of manufacture, assembly and repair of gaming devices;
- a Class 2 licence is necessary for the purposes of supply, lease, sale or transfer of gaming devices;
- a Class 3 licence is required for a person to make gaming devices available for use, or for the host or operation of gaming devices; and
- a Class 4 licence is required for a person to administer a central system for gaming devices.
It should be noted that the above-mentioned classes pertain to land-based operations and should not be confused with the classes pertaining to remote-gaming operations.
A licence must be issued to any person who intends to work as a receptionist, dealer, chef de table, cashier, supervisor, watcher, machine engineer, manager or any person who, in view of the MGA, is involved in the gaming operations of a casino.
Prior consent must be obtained from the MGA with respect to any person who intends to work within key roles with remote gaming operators.
III The licensing process
i Application and renewal
An applicant must be a body corporate established in Malta under the terms of the Companies Act, and as a general rule, know-your-customer (KYC) information must be submitted as part of its application process.
For individuals involved with the applicant entity, particularly shareholders, directors, and key employees, information would generally take the form of personal background and financial information; criminal record information; information relating to pecuniary, equity and other interests in the applicant entity; and interests in any other commercial activity.
This information is generally substantiated by the submission of birth certificates, passport copies, passport photos, police conduct certificates, and bank and professional references. Where a body corporate is a shareholder of the applicant, the MGA generally also requires the memorandum and articles of incorporation, a certificate of good standing, and bank and professional references in relation thereto.
The MGA conducts probity investigations with other national and international regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies. An applicant must also submit evidence of possessing the financial means and expertise available to carry out the operations in respect of which his or her application was submitted, and to fulfil all obligations under the law. As a matter of the MGA’s policy, a business plan should also be provided by the applicant.
The various laws also provide that the licensee may be obliged to obtain (and maintain) a bank guarantee in favour of the MGA, which would generally be required to secure players’ funds and winnings, payment of fees, taxes and any administrative penalties or other sums that may be due and payable by the licensee. This is done in order to protect player funds, whereby the mentioned bank guarantee shall be in such amount and for such period of time as determined by the MGA, and if the licensee fails to comply with such order within three working days, the MGA has the right to suspend the licence.16
Depending upon the type of licence required, other information will be requested by the MGA such as specific details in relation to the gaming control systems of the applicant. Examples of such information would include details relating to the games, the manufacturer of such games, certification by third parties, rules of the game, terms, conditions procedures that players must abide by and the system architecture.
If the audit is successful, the MGA will issue a licence with a validity period of five years, which is renewable after the licensee is submitted to further audits. In granting a licence, the MGA always retains the discretion to impose such conditions as it deems appropriate, and may from time to time after the granting of the licence, vary or revoke any condition so imposed, or impose new conditions.
The application fee for a remote gaming licence is €2,300. A further system review fee of €2,500 must be paid in advance for the execution by the MGA’s approved third-party certifiers, and a compliance review fee of €3,500 must be paid for the execution by the MGA’s approved third-party certifiers and auditors. Moreover, current licensees are to pay an annual licence fee of €8,500. With respect to new licensees, further to the implementation of the ‘Gaming Licence Fees Regulations’17 (GLFRs), an annual licence fee of €25,000 is due. The licence renewal application fee is €1,500.
As a general rule, there is no limitation with regard to the number of licences that can be issued in relation to a particular product. However, the National Lottery, as mentioned in Section I.iii, above, can only be operated by one person at any given time, and is granted through a competitive process.
The licensing procedure is (with the exception of the National Lottery), in principle, similar to that described in Section II.v, above in relation to remote gaming, and requires the submission of KYC documentation, financing and information regarding the control system and gaming system of the activities being licensed.
Licences may, in most circumstances, be renewed. On the other hand, the licence to operate the National Lottery is only renewable for a limited period and given the subsistence of specific circumstances.
In relation to the duration of licences granted, licences under the GDRs are granted for one year; a casino licence remains in force for up to 10 years; the National Lottery licence is issued for such term as the MGA, after consultation with the Minister of Finance, may specify in the licence; and licences for tombola halls can be issued for six months or one year, depending on the type of licence required.
Where the licensing process entails the licensing of a premises, information such as a description of the nature, location and dimensions of the premises, architectural plans, relevant diagrams and development permits issued by the Malta Environment Planning Authority in respect of the premises to be licensed, may be required.
With respect to casino licence fees, the law stipulates that the MGA determines the said fee based on the costs incurred by the casino in carrying out its functions under the licence. Changes in the amount cannot be implemented before a 12-month interval has passed.
The fees of gaming devices are as follows:
- a Class 1 and Class 2 – an application fee of €2,000 and an annual licence fee of €2,000;
- b Class 3 – an application fee of €500 and €125 per relevant gaming device per month; and
- c Class 4 – an application fee of €2,000.
With respect to tombola, a one-time licence fee of €1,164.69 should be paid together with the submission of an application for the issuing of a licence, and is applicable to all classes of tombola (bingo) hall.
ii Sanctions for non-compliance
As a general rule, the MGA may impose an administrative fine or sanction upon a licensee who contravenes a condition of the licence, including the suspension or cancellation of a licence. Generally this would occur in the following situations:
- a shareholder or director of the licensee is convicted of a crime or of an offence, or ceases to be a ‘fit and proper person’;
- if the licensee has failed to discharge financial commitments when such commitments become due and payable;
- the licensee has failed to comply with any material term or condition of the licence (unless reasonable cause is shown);
- where the licensee knowingly or negligently supplies the MGA with false or misleading information; or
- where the MGA reasonably deems it necessary in the national interest to cancel or suspend a licence.
In most cases, it is an offence to engage in any form of gaming that is not duly licensed under the relevant laws. Further details in relation to specific games are outlined below.
The Gaming Act provides that any person who is deemed guilty of an offence against the said Act, will be liable to a fine of not less than €6,988.12 and not more than €232,937.34. Alternatively, they may be liable to imprisonment of not more than two years, or to both the fine and imprisonment.
The GDRs prescribe that failure to comply with any of the regulations under the same GDRs is considered an offence, punishable by a fine of €3,000 to €235,000 in respect of every single contravention. Furthermore, the law applies the concept of vicarious liability in this situation if the contravention comes into being because of the act or omission of an employee or a person in the licensee’s service.
The RBO18 states that any person committing an offence against the Ordinance shall be liable to a fine not exceeding €1,164.69, or to a term not exceeding three months’ imprisonment.
Any contravention of the RGRs is considered an offence against the LOGA and any person guilty of an offence shall be liable to a fine of not less than €6,988.12 and not more than €232,937.34, or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or to both such fine and imprisonment.
The prevention of fraud and money laundering has been described as one of the main aims of the Maltese remote gaming regime.19
Regarding the prevention of match-fixing, the MGA has implemented certain preventive measures, whereby as part of its licensing process it requires applicants to submit specifications of their control system and gaming system, which include inter alia, the general procedures to be followed in remote gaming and in playing a game, the processes, the rules and the parameters of the games.
Furthermore, one of the conditions laid down in the RGR requires that the licence applicant must provide information on risk management, management of live betting and risk management in terms of odds compilation.20
In an effort to increase collaboration, the MGA has entered into memoranda of understanding with various other regulators and entities. Furthermore, the MGA, on its own initiative or upon a complaint, or a request for information by any of the parties with whom a memorandum of understanding is present, or by any other enforcement agencies such as the police, may investigate and collect information from betting licensees.
As mentioned in Section III.i, above, when evaluating an application for a gaming licence the MGA will take various aspects into account, namely, the financial background of the applicant, and whether the applicant has followed policies, and will take affirmative steps to prevent money laundering and other suspicious transactions.
Furthermore, licensees are not allowed to accept cash directly from players,21 and money may only be remitted by the licensee to the player, to the same account from which the funds paid into the player’s account originated.22 Moreover, a licensee shall not make a payment in excess of €2,329.37 out of a player’s account until the player’s identity, age and place of residence have been verified.23
Regarding casinos, gaming taxes are paid to the MGA on a monthly basis and are calculated by the MGA based on the gross earnings of the casino. These can be set off against gross losses over two-month periods. In all cases, the gaming tax must be paid within seven days from the end of the previous month. Furthermore, there is a tax payable on the income derived from the entrance fees of the casino.
Taxes to be paid related to gaming parlours depend on the licence. A Class 3 licence must pay €200 per relevant gaming device per month where the gross gaming revenue of each relevant gaming device does not exceed €1,000 for that relevant month; or 20 per cent of the monthly gross gaming revenue generated by every relevant gaming device where the gross gaming revenue of each relevant gaming device exceeds €1,000 for that relevant month.
With respect to tombola halls, the Commercial Tombola (Bingo) Regulations24 provide that a licensee shall pay the MGA 10 per cent of the value of every scoresheet or 30 per cent of the total revenue on entrance fees, or both. Where bingo is being offered by a non-profit organisation, a licensee must tender a duty of €34.94 in respect of each session.
The licensee for a non-profit lottery must, through the MGA, pay the Ministry of Finance 25 per cent on the aggregate retail value of all prizes that can be won in such game.
ii Remote gaming
The gaming tax as applicable by the MGA to current licensees is as follows:
- Class 1 – €4,660 per month for the first six months and €7,000 per subsequent month;
- Class 1 on 4 – €1,200 per month;
- Class 2 – 0.5 per cent on the gross amount of all bets accepted;
- Class 3 and Class 3 on 4 per cent to 5 per cent of real income;
- Class 4 – the gaming tax payable by a hosting platform is nil for the first six months of operation, €2,330 per month for the subsequent six months (month seven to month 12) and €4,660 per subsequent month (month 13 onwards) for the entire duration of the licence; and
- controlled skill game service licence – 5 per cent of real income.
The maximum gaming tax payable annually, per licensee in respect of any one licence, is €466,000.
Moreover, besides gaming, tax operators are also subject to corporate taxation at the applied rates.
Regarding winnings from gambling, these do not qualify as income in terms of the Income Tax Act and therefore are not taxable.
Further to the implementation of the GLFRs, new licensees are subject to the payment of a ‘compliance contribution’ payable for each financial year as outlined in the GLFRs and not subject to the gaming tax regime as outlined above.
As of July 2018, the gaming tax regime as outlined above will be abolished and current licensees will instead become subject to the payment of the ‘compliance contribution’ as opposed to the gaming tax.
In terms of the GLFRs, in addition to the payment of the ‘compliance contribution’ and as of July 2018, licensees who offer any gaming service to any player who is physically present in Malta when the gaming service is provided, shall pay a gaming tax of 5 per cent of the gaming revenue generated from the said gaming services during the relevant tax period.
VI ADVERTISING AND MARKETING
The Code of Advertising, Promotions and Inducements (the Code), which applies to all types of gaming, lays out the restrictions imposed on a licensee. The Code states generally that a licensee must not engage in advertising that:
- encourages anyone to contravene a gaming law;
- exposes people who are under 18 years of age to gambling;
- encourages or targets people under 18 years of age to gamble;
- is false or untruthful, particularly about the chances of winning or the expected return to a gambler;
- suggests that gambling is a form of financial investment;
- suggests that skill can influence games that are purely games of chance;
- promotes smoking or the abuse of consumption of alcohol while gambling;
- implies that gambling promotes or is required for social acceptance, personal or financial success or the resolution of any economic, social or personal problems;
- contains endorsements by well-known personalities or celebrities that suggest gambling contributes to their success;
- exceeds the limits of decency; or
- tarnishes the goodwill and privilege that is associated or related in any manner whatsoever with being a licensee, or tarnishes the image or reputation of another licensee.
Furthermore, promotions (except junket gaming and tournaments) must not commit people to gamble for a minimum period of time, or to gamble a minimum amount in order to qualify for player rewards. When a licensee publishes any advertising or conducts a promotion that encourages people to engage in any activity other than gambling, he or she must not refer, directly or indirectly, to the licensee’s gambling facilities.
In relation to casinos, the Gambling Act sets out four forms of advertising that are prohibited as follows:
- informing the public that a premises in Malta is being used as a casino;
- inviting the public to take part as players in any gaming that takes place in a casino or to apply for information about facilities for taking part as players in a casino;
- inviting the public to subscribe any money or money’s worth to be used in gaming in a casino, or to apply for information about facilities for subscribing any money or money’s worth to be so used; or
- inviting the public to take part as players in any gaming that takes place, or is to take place, in any casino outside Malta, or to apply for information about facilities for taking part as players in any gaming that takes place, or is to take place, outside Malta.
The RGRs prohibit a licensee from engaging in advertising that:
- implies that remote gaming promotes or is required for social acceptance, personal or financial success or the resolution of any economic, social or personal problems;
- contains endorsements by well-known personalities that suggest remote gaming contributed to their success;
- is specifically directed at encouraging individuals under 18 years of age to engage in remote gaming; or
- exceeds the limits of decency.
Additionally, a licensee must not engage in any activity that involves the sending of unsolicited electronic mail, whether it is through its own operation or by the intervention of third parties.25
The penalties imposed of are those mentioned in Section III.ii, above.
VII THE YEAR IN REVIEW
As a first step towards the proposed overhaul of the gambling legislation in Malta, the Maltese government issued the GLFRs in December 2017. The GLFRs introduce a new fiscal structure, effective as of 1 January 2018.
In anticipation of the proposed changes to the licensing regime, licence fees payable per activity have been abolished, in favour of a singular fee made up of fixed and variable parts. The GLFRs provide for a two-tier licence fee for operators of gaming services in possession of a licence, the ‘compliance contribution’ payable for every licence period and the ‘fixed annual licence fee’.
Further to the transposition of the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive26 the MGA set up a new Anti-Money Laundering Unit. The main functions of this Unit include the undertaking of AML/CTF supervisory assessments, which may be conducted through both on-site and off-site investigations, and consequently the Unit will disclose its findings with the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit in Malta.
As a result of the proposed overhaul of gambling legislation in Malta, in July 2017, the MGA issued a White Paper27 in order to advise the government of Malta about reviewing and enhancing the existing regulatory regime.
The proposed legal structure includes a primary Act of Parliament – the proposed Gaming Act (the Act).28 The proposed Act will repeal most of the legislation currently regulating gambling in Malta. Along with the regulations being issued under the Act, it aims to harmonise regulatory principles and create more efficient governance.
The proposed Act will overhaul the current licensing structure with a view to streamlining the process. Pursuant to the proposed Gaming Authorisations Regulations (GARs),29 the licence categories will be two fold; that is, a gaming service licence,30 which is a B2C licence to offer or carry out a ‘gaming service’, and a critical gaming supply licence,31 which is a B2B licence to provide or carry out a critical gaming supply. The B2C gaming service licence will encompass the offering, provision or operation of a gaming service and the hosting of a gaming operation and making a gaming device or gaming system available for use in public premises. On the other hand, a B2B critical gaming supply licence will be available for the supply and management of material elements of a game, software or control system.32 No licence or authorisation will be required for the provision of a gaming service or a critical gaming supply where such service or supply is carried out in relation to exempt games that are listed in the Second Schedule of the proposed GARs.
Through the proposed law, the licence term will be extended to 10 years.33
Amusement machines will no longer require a licence under the proposed Gaming Act, however, they will require registration with the MGA against a nominal fee.36
The proposed laws will regulate land-based gaming premises through the Gaming Premises Regulations,37 which cover physical player interfaces within dedicated premises, access controls and self-exclusion mechanisms and limitations on locations thereof.
With respect to gaming tax, the proposed regulations set a gaming tax of 5 per cent of the gaming revenue derived from end customers located in Malta,38 regardless of the channel used – whether land-based or remote.
Operators of gaming devices will be subject to a gaming levy, which will be calculated as a percentage of total gaming revenue through an increasing sliding scale.39
Critical gaming supply licensees will not be subject to any additional gaming tax.40 This will mean that the gaming tax paid by current Class 4 licensees will also be abolished, including the fee that current Class 4 licensees are required to pay with respect to hosting or managing operators that are licensed outside of Malta. The rationale behind this decision by the MGA is that providers of critical supplies share revenue together with the B2C providers making use of their services, and therefore the tax payable on such revenue would have already been paid by the B2C provider.
On a separate note, in December 2017, as a result of the increasing interest in distributed ledger technology (DLT) and cryptocurrency, the MGA issued a call41 for interested parties to provide further details on DLT and projects relating to cryptocurrency. The Authority is currently drafting guiding principles for the application of DLT within the gaming sector, including the utilisation of cryptocurrency. A publication by the MGA on the matter is expected during the course of 2018. Concurrently, the MGA is also working on a live sandbox environment for the utilisation of cryptocurrencies in this sector. In doing so, the MGA would be able to assess the introduction of cryptocurrencies in a contained and safe environment.
1 Andrew J Zammit is a managing partner, Martina Borg Stevens and Nicole Attard are associates, and Yasmine Aquilina is an advocate, at GVZH Advocates.
2 Chapter 438 of the Laws of Malta.
3 Remote Gaming Regulations (RGR’s) Article 2.
4 Chapter 438.04 of the Laws of Malta.
5 Chapter 438.11 of the Laws of Malta.
6 SGRs Article 2.
7 Ruling in terms of Regulation 6 of the SGRs (27 January 2017) – Ruling Reference: SGR/001.
8 Chapter 400 of the Laws of Malta.
9 The Malta Gaming Authority, www.mga.org.mt/gaming-sectors/remote-gaming/licensed-operators.
10 Case C-347/09 (Preliminary Ruling from the Bezirksgericht Linz)  98.
11 Section 188.8.131.52 of the MGA’s system documentation form, which must be submitted at the licensing stage.
12 See Section I, supra, for definitions.
13 Chapter 400.03 of the Laws of Malta.
14 Amendment to the Locations for Gaming Parlours Directive – www.mga.org.mt/amendment-to-the-
15 MGA Locations for Gaming Parlours Directive 2011.
16 SL 438.04, Article 40(4).
17 Legal Notice 409 of 2017 of the Laws of Malta.
18 Racecourse Betting Ordinance, Chapter 78 of the Laws of Malta.
19 Joseph F Borg, ‘The Basis of the Maltese Regulation of Remote Gaming and the ongoing supervision of the Authority on its licensees’.
20 RGRs Regulation 9.
21 Ibid, Regulation 35(4).
22 Ibid, Regulation 37(2).
23 Ibid, Regulation 36.
24 Subsidiary legislation 438.05 of the Laws of Malta.
25 RGRs Article 60.
26 Council Directive of 20 May 2015 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, amending Regulation (EU) No. 648/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Directive 2006/70/EC  OJ L 141/73.
27 A White Paper to Future Proof Malta’s Gaming Legal Framework, July 2017, published by Malta Gaming Authority; http://www.mga.org.mt/wp-content/uploads/White-Paper-to-Future-Proof-Maltas-Gaming-Legal-Framework.pdf.
28 Ibid Annex 1.
29 Ibid Annex 3.
30 Ibid Annex 3, First Schedule, Regulation 1(a).
31 Ibid Annex 3, First Schedule, Regulation 1(b).
32 Ibid page 18.
33 Ibid Annex 3, Regulation 6.
34 Ibid Annex 3, Fifth Schedule.
35 Ibid page 20.
36 Ibid Annex 3, Regulation 31.
37 Ibid Annex 7.
38 Ibid, Annex 8. Regulation 3.
39 Ibid, Annex 8, Regulation 5.
40 Ibid, page 26.
41 Malta Gaming Authority issues call for interested parties to register interest and provide details on Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and/or Cryptocurrency projects, Malta Gaming Authority, 5th December 2017; http://www.mga.org.mt/malta-gaming-authority-issues-call-interested-parties-register-