Online gambling licenses from the Malta Gaming Authority are highly valued by operators, but getting one is easier dreamed of than done. The world-renowned license gives online gambling platforms a nearly unrivaled level of legitimacy, but navigating bureaucratic processes is never smooth sailing. Read about how Slotegrator’s jurisdictional and business advisory services can clear the way for your casino to get one of the industry’s most widely-recognized licenses.
Online gambling licensing and regulation in Malta
Malta became the first EU member state to fully embrace online gambling by passing the Remote Gaming Regulations in 2004, and the Lotteries and Gaming Authority — changed to the Malta Gaming Authority in 2015 — quickly built up a reputation as a leading licensor and regulator in the online gambling industry. With a hospitable government and thriving technology and business sectors, Malta has established itself as an international axis of iGaming.
The MGA offers both B2C licenses for organizing gambling activities and B2B licenses for providing gambling materials. The B2C licenses are divided into 4 classes of license depending on the form of gambling the operator wants to provide.
Malta’s licensing and regulatory framework was revised in 2018 with the introduction of the Gaming Act 2018. As of the regulatory reconfiguration, operators do not need to submit a new application for separate licenses. Instead, they can add to the class of games they offer without going through the licensing process again. Also, the validity of the license was extended from five years to ten.
Why should you get a license in Malta in 2022?
The iGaming industry accounts for a massive portion of the Maltese economy. Malta’s iGaming sector generated over €1.5 billion in 2019, accounting for 13% of the country’s GDP, representing an increase of nearly 10% compared to the previous year. Moreover, it also represents the critical role that gaming plays in Malta — in fact, it is the third-biggest private sector industry in the country.
Perhaps out of recognition of the industry’s value, the Maltese government is one of the world’s most gambling-friendly. The 2018 regulatory restructuring simplified the licensing regime and streamlined the tax system to avoid double taxation, eliminating the gaming tax. But easing up on taxes has by no means hurt the Maltese government; in 2019, the gaming industry generated €80 million in compliance contributions, license fees, levies, and consumption taxes. Simply put, the Maltese government’s hospitality towards the iGaming industry has created a satisfying win-win for both businesses and authorities.
Despite the number of giants who’ve set up shop on the tiny Mediterranean island, there’s still plenty of room to go around. The MGA’s pro-business stance extends from the heights of the industry down to tough-nosed entrepreneurs — the monthly Compliance Contribution, which varies depending on revenue, is waived for start-ups’ first twelve months of licensed operation, provided the company meets certain criteria like being less than five years old and making under €10 million in revenues.
Malta is also home to SiGMA, one of the global iGaming industry’s biggest and most important annual events. The combination of industry-leading speakers, an expo that gets bigger every year, and networking events where you can get face time with potential new partners brings together thousands of delegates and affiliates every year.
Along with the companies and conferences, there’s a highly-trained workforce available. The prospect of meaningful employment has attracted plenty of qualified professionals, making Malta the perfect iGaming environment. Employment opportunities directly related to the gaming industry accounted for over 7000 full-time jobs in 2019, and when accounting for all jobs related to the iGaming industry the number rises to 11,000 — over 4.5% of the country’s workforce. Simply put, if iGaming has a native country, it’s Malta.
The MGA’s international reputation goes beyond just the legitimacy it has in the eyes of players (though that alone is reason enough for some operators). For example, the MGA is on the United Kingdom Gambling Commission’s “Whitelist,” allowing MGA license holders to advertise in the UK market. The MGA also has bilateral agreements with a number of other regulators, which vary from case to case but often feature cooperation in areas like information sharing.
A Growing Industry
A bigger part of the Maltese
economy every year
The Perfect Environment
Home to highly-trained
Highly regarded around
Regulations enable the
industry to flourish
Global hub for iGaming
businesses and events
How do you get a license in Malta?
The MGA is thorough when it comes to deciding which applicants meet its licensing criteria. The vetting process is credited with inspiring faith in players across the globe — the MGA’s word that an operator can be trusted is as good as gold.
There are several stages an application moves through.
Fit and proper check
In the first stage, the MGA assesses all information on the client regarding the finance and management of their business. MGA conducts investigations with international regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies. The backgrounds of shareholders and key persons are investigated and verified.
Business planning check
Once the application has cleared the fit and proper check, the MGA does a detailed and thorough examination of the applicant’s business plan, including things like marketing, human resources, forecast of operation, and financial prospects.
Operational and statutory requirements check
Once the credibility of the applicant and the feasibility of the business are established, the MGA examines incorporation documents, verticals, terms and conditions, policies and procedures, etc.
The MGA checks the applicant’s financial reserves. The necessary amount of paid-up share capital depends on license type:
Type 1 — €100,000
Type 2 — €100,000
Type 3 — €40,000
Type 4 — €40,000
Licensees are liable for share capital per license, capped at €240,000.
After the first three stages are complete, the applicant is notified that their application is approved and they are invited to “implement the operation onto a technical environment” and a qualified system auditor, pre-approved by the MGA and chosen by the operator, will carry out a system audit which will check whether the casino operates as it was proposed to do in the application. The casino should operate nearly identically to the outlined business plan, and if it does not the applicant will have to re-submit their application. Once the processes are certified, the applicant is granted a 10-year license.
Within 90 days of going live, the operator must have a compliance auditor recognized by the MGA review the project.
Applicants are responsible for a number of administrative fees when it comes to applying for or renewing a license.
Application fee for a new license
Paid upon application for a gaming license
Application fee for renewal of license
Paid upon application for renewal of license
Key function certificate
Paid upon application for a Key Function Certificate
Transfer of a qualifying interest in a licensee
Paid upon the request for the transfer
Paid upon application for a Material supply Certificate
Maintenance fee for a material supply certificate
Paid yearly in advance
There are also yearly licensing fees.
Non-Refundable Fixed Annual License Fee
License Types 1, 2, 3
License Type 4
MGA licensees are responsible for making an annual compliance contribution which is calculated based on what type of license they hold. For the purposes of calculating Compliance Contributions, the MGA determines Gaming Revenue via the following equation:
(A+B) - (B+C) = Gaming Revenue
A = total amount of real money wagers
B = the total amount of bonus wagers and other player incentives
C = the total amount of withdrawable player winnings.
There are also fees associated with the B2B license. Below is a chart outlining the annual fees that critical gaming supply license holders are responsible for.
Table of license fees for supplying and managing the material elements of a game
License fees on annual revenue
If annual revenue is less than €5,000,000
If annual revenue is greater than €5,000,000 but less than €10,000,000
If annual revenue is greater than €10,000,000
License fee for providers solely offering services for license type 4
License fee for the supply and management of software
License fees on annual revenuee
Where annual revenue does not exceed €1,000,000
Where annual revenue exceeds €10,000,000
If there is a downside to getting licensed in Malta, it’s the expense. Licensing fees and taxes are high when compared to, for example, Curacao. For this reason, the MGA license is a more common choice among more established operators with substantial financial backing. But aside from that, it’s hard to find a downside to getting a license from one of the world’s most established and reputable jurisdictions.
Still, there’s more than one licensing jurisdiction in the global iGaming industry, each with their own requirements, restrictions, and prices. The Isle of Man, located in the Irish Sea between the UK and Ireland, also offers online gambling licenses. The chart below gives an idea of how Malta and the Isle of Man compare.
How does the Malta online gambling license* compare to the Isle of Man?
*for B2C licensees
What are the risks of skipping the online gambling license?
Some operators flinch at the thought of coughing up the costs of a gambling license and go without, hoping to fly under authorities’ radar. However, operating without a license is one of the worst ideas an aspiring operator can have. And this is why:
Many game developers and payment service providers won’t cooperate with unlicensed operators, meaning your unlicensed casino will have a limited range of gaming products and payment methods.
Players find unlicensed casinos to be untrustworthy. Players are very quick to take to forums and discuss casinos they find to be disreputable, and once you have a bad reputation, it is very hard to get rid of.
Unlicensed casinos can be subject to large fines if they are based in a jurisdiction that regulates gambling. In Malta,first-time offendersface fines ranging from €10,000 to €500,000.
Casinos can be shut down by the authorities if they do not comply with the regulations of the jurisdiction where the company is based.
Providing unlicensed gambling services is considered a criminal offense in Malta with prison terms of up to five years, and penalties worsening for repeat offenders. And this is a rule not only for the jurisdiction of Malta. For example, in the UK, offering unlicensed gambling activities is punishable by a fine or up to 51 weeks behind bars. Similarly, in Germany, offering gambling activities without a license can be punished by a fine or up to two years in prison, and unlicensed operators can also face tax evasion charges. In Russia, fines range from RUB 800,000 to RUB 1,500,000 and prison terms can last up to two years.
The price of a license may be high, but the cost of skipping it is probably higher. Operators who have their websites shut down or find themselves stuck in prison will probably have a hard time trying to turn a profit.
Applicants submit their application and pay the application fee. Once both are accepted, the MGA checks that the applicant is fit and proper to conduct gambling activities, that the applicant has prepared a proper strategy, and that the applicant meets operational and statutory requirements. Finally, technical systems and compliance are reviewed as the platform goes live.
The kind of license you need depends on what kind of gaming activity you want to offer. There are four types of license, covering RNG-based games, sports betting, peer-to-peer games, and controlled skill games. Operators don’t need to apply for a separate license for each type of game. Licensed operators who wish to expand their services only need to apply for approval.
What else do you need for a successful online casino business?
1. A branded platform
Starting from scratch has never been easier. Our Turnkey solution provides everything you need to get an online casino up and running in the blink of an eye. With custom design, client management systems, financial infrastructure, and more, our Turnkey Casino solution will jump-start your online casino business in only 1-3 months.
2. World-class games
An online casino’s top priority is consistently providing the exciting gaming experience that players expect. Providing an array of slots and other games is a tried-and-true strategy for keeping players coming back time and time again. Our game integration solution can integrate over 15,000 games from more than 100 of the world’s best game developers in a single integration session — saving you time and money and letting you cut the ribbon on your new online casino sooner rather than later.
3. Reliable payment processing systems
It goes without saying that your players will need to make deposits and withdrawals. As an online casino business, you’re likely to have an international player base wagering with a variety of currencies - not to mention cryptocurrencies. Our payment system API will enable you to accept payments in over 100 different currencies from 20 of the world’s leading payment providers.
4. Don’t forget the sportsbook
Casino players may be the bread and butter of your business, but sports bettors have a lot to offer as well — they love to put their money where their mouth is, and they have a lot to say. So don’t stop at slots — offer a range of sports disciplines and events to bet on, as well as plenty of data feeds to keep punters up to speed.
How can Slotegrator help you get licensed in Malta and get your business started?
Many operators choose to save themselves time, money, strain, and wasted effort by outsourcing the complicated licensing process, relying on the expertise and professionalism of companies that are well-practiced at navigating the bureaucratic ins and outs of license application processes.
Slotegrator’s jurisdictional and business advisory services will help you through every step of the licensing process, saving you time, money, and hassle and getting your project going fast. Save yourself a headache and leave it to us to get your licensing done while you turn your attention elsewhere, like focusing on marketing efforts to build up your player base.
In 2016, I graduated from the Law Faculty of Charles University in Prague. The main area of law on which I focused both during and after my university studies is software law (and intellectual property in general). After graduating from the university, I briefly worked at a medium-sized law firm in Prague, but in 2018 I joined Slotegrator, where I have been working ever since and where I handle the company’s day-to-day legal matters.