Saturday January 17,2015 : ONLINE GAMBLING A KEY MALTA INDUSTRY
The sector employs 8,000 Maltese and is the second largest contributor to GDP.
The importance of online gambling licensing and regulation to the Malta economy has been underlined in a World Folio article detailing the industry's contribution to the Mediterranean island's affairs.
The piece reports that in 2014 the number of online gambling licenses issued by the national regulator, the Lotteries and Gaming Authority, increased by 25 percent.
It reveals that plans for a Euro 220 million business park development titled SmartCity Malta on the island are set to attract an array of international technology companies, further boosting the economy and employment prospects with an expected 3 percent growth this year.
The Malta government passed laws creating a regulatory and licensing jurisdiction for online gambling twenty years ago, and continues to study ways in which further innovation and growth can be achieved.
It is aided in this endeavour by a strictly regulated, conservative and reliable banking and financial infrastructure and advanced telecommunications facilities.
"The sector is already the country’s second biggest contributor to GDP, with more than 12 percent of its annual income coming through online gaming services, while an estimated 8,000 employees support over 250 licensed operators," World Folio notes.
The only other Malta industry that creates more jobs and tax revenues on the island is the financial services sector, which has grown through government's foresight in creating a benevolent tax environment and a sophisticated banking and technology infrastructure.
Lotteries and Gaming chief Joseph Cuschieri told World Folio that sustainability is a key strategy for the future, and changes were in process to ensure this was achieved.
He revealed that the LGA is looking to strengthen partnerships with institutions in other jurisdictions such as the Philippines’ PAGCOR, as well as building new relationships outside of Europe.
“Governments are realising that if you try to block gaming, people are going to play or gamble anyway with the high probability that they will play within unregulated or illegal sites, where the player is not protected,” he said.
“So the argument is: if you want to control online gambling, even land-based gambling, you need to regulate it well and only then will you manage to really control and protect consumers and prevent organised crime and money laundering.”
Cuschieri says that entries into new markets across Asia and Latin America are also being considered, while the regulatory scope of remote gaming licensing is being widened to include social and digital games of skill.
Gaming Malta, an independent marketing entity, is being formed to market the island's services in this drive, while a Gaming Academy has been created to develop workforce skills.
The SmartCity Malta project is another element in the sustainability drive, explained project CEO Anthony Tabone.
The concept is to provide a cluster of like-minded businesses operating close to each other to enable the industry has a whole to prosper.
“It has been built with a backbone of infrastructure to support these kinds of companies with a number of different areas, including backup when it comes to Internet supply, when it comes to redundancy on electricity,” says Tabone.
“The properties are based on the success story of Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Dubai Knowledge Village,” he adds.