Q:Why is Malta a preferred gaming jurisdiction?
Apart from a favourable tax environment and a sound reputation, Malta has a mature eco-system that has been created over a span of 19 years from when it offered its first remote gaming licenses for sportsbooks in 2000. Malta’s license is also not restricted to Malta or EU for accepting bets and therefore, is preferred by those with a global outlook for provision of betting services.
Q:What types of licences are available in Malta?
There are two main categories of gaming licences, the critical supply licences for B2B operators and the gaming services licence for B2C operators. The game types or verticals are divided into four different ones, namely: Type 1 – RNG games such as casino, lotteries. Type 2 – Fixed odds betting. Type 3 – Peer to Peer games such as bingo, poker, pool betting. Type 4 – controlled skill games. You can apply for a B2C or B2B licence and one or more game types. The licence fees remain the same, however, compliance contributions will vary based on the number of game types you apply for. B2Bs do not pay any compliance contribution and just pay the annual licence fee which is based on the revenue of the previous years.
There is also a corporate group licence which was designed to facilitate group structures where supplies of various services are provided by different entities and also gaming services provided by different entities. The corporate group licence is necessary so that entities within the group that provide services only to group companies do not need to obtain separate licences. To qualify as a group company 90% of the shareholding must be the same.
Q:I am a start-up. Are there any special dispensations available for us?
One of the areas that had to be tackled carefully with the new licencing regime was the matter of start-up companies and the necessity to give them time to start generating turnover and revenues. Consequently, the Directive of Start-Up undertakings was published wherein it lists a number of conditions that if satisfied will exempt the company from payment of compliance contributions for the first 12 months.
Q:What are the annual licencing costs for a standard iGaming operator?
The annual licence fee for a B2C licence is fixed at €25,000. There is a €5000 licence application fee to be considered. The other costs relate to the Game Types included on the B2C licence and each game type has a minimum and maximum annual contribution which is calculated on the GGR of the operator per game type. There is also a 5% gaming tax on GGR generated on Maltese players.
Q:Do I need to have a company in Malta to obtain and maintain an iGaming licence?
It is not a requirement to have a Maltese company and any EU/EEA entity may apply for a Maltese gaming licence. However, it is recommended to have a local company due to various advantages designed for gaming companies in Malta.
Q:How long does it take to get an iGaming licence, from application to issuance?
Whilst it cannot be guaranteed, a well presented and documented submission should take between 12 -16 weeks from submission to be reviewed and the licence issued by the MGA. Of course, one needs to take into consideration the timing of the submission of the application and holiday seasons as well as the promptness in replying to any queries raised by the MGA.
Q:If I have a licence and I want to start offering new products is it a complicated process?
The new licencing regime was mainly designed to reduce the complications of adding new products. As igaming operators are always looking to add new games to their offerings a simpler procedure was required. Previously, a separate licence was required for each new content provider. Now, if the game type / vertical is already approved on your B2C licence you are required to submit a notification to the MGA, via the Portal, within 5 days of going live. If it’s a new vertical you want to offer, say adding in a Type 1, then you need prior approval. But it is a much simpler and faster.
Q:How do I know if I need a licence, I only offer back-office software?
It all depends on how you offer the software. If you are hosting it and managing it on a day to day basis and you process data such as player data, betting data which fall withing the description of regulatory data you will require a B2B licence of the lesser type (3 [b]). If you also manage the game, e.g. RNG or in the case of sportsbetting you handle the risk management then you will need the full licence (3[a]).
Q:I provide Risk Management and Customer Support services, do I need a licence?
No you would not require a licence. These and other types of supplies listed in the regulations fall within the category of Material Gaming Supply. It is optional to obtain a certificate from the Malta Gaming Authority. However, if you do not obtain the certificate, each operator you supply the service to will need to get you approved. A full list of supplies categorized as being Material Gaming supplies can be found in the Gaming Authorisation Regulations – 3rd Schedule.
Q:What is ADR? Do I need to do something?
This is a requirement that is stipulated in the new Gaming regulations but eminates from the Consumer Affairs (MCCAA) Act. All operators are to find a licenced Alternate Dispute Resolution arbitration provider, inform the MGA and insert the necessary details on the operator’s licenced websites. Should an operator enter into a dispute with a customer the customer can resort to the ADR provider to air his complaint and ask for intermediation.
Q:I outsource all my IT and systems to a licensed operator. Do I need to do the risk assessment on essential components?
There should be no need to do so if you have no essential components under your control. The entity from whom you are receiving these services should have carried out the risk assessment therefore you would not need to do another one yourself.
Q:Can key functions be outsourced?
Yes all the key functions can technically be outsourced with the exception of the Money Laundering Reporting Officer function. The person satisfying this role must be an employee or officer of the company. The persons need not be resident in Malta. One person can occupy more than 1 role but they must not be conflicting roles. Each person, unless already approved by MGA, would need to undergo due diligence exercise and obtain the relevant certificate from the MGA.
Q:Do I need to come to Malta to obtain the licence?
It’s always a good idea to meet the regulator, however, it is not essential or mandatory to come to Malta. There are other opportunities to meet the Regulator, such as during events such as conferences and/or exhibitions. All documentation can be prepared and delivered using various modes of communication and courier services, depending on the type of documentation. For example due diligence documents need to be sent in original, or certified true copies. Policies and procedures can be exchanged in soft copy.
Q:Do I need to have all my software and hardware in Malta?
The MGA allows parts of the gaming and control system to reside in the cloud or at data centres in the EU/EEA. However, the MGA requires that real live replication of the regulatory data is effected onto servers in Malta.
Q:Do I need to have an office, director, presence in Malta?
You definitely need a registered address in Malta to satisfy the companies act. For various other reasons it is always advisable to maintain a physical presence in Malta and carry out key functions in Malta. The Board meetings should also take place in Malta.
Q:I heard that its difficult to obtain a bank account, is this true?
Yes, it is a fact that finding banks that accept gaming operators are few and far between and each have their own specific requirements or exceptions. However, eventually we always manage to find a bank that will accept properly licenced gaming operators. We are hoping that with increased regulation and with gaming operators becoming obliged entities under AML regulations, banks will become more open to considering gaming operators as clients. Fees charged by the banks are also quite high as they consider the accounts to be high risk and high maintenance.