It may only have a population of just over half a million people, but Malta has become the face of the online gambling industry. Since the advent of the internet, people have been using online sites to play games for real money or wagers on sporting events. While it started out as a shady and underground practice, it’s now become a huge, highly regulated industry.
Today, the online gambling market is valued at over US$90 billion (€74.7 billion) and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10 per cent between 2023 and 2032. There’s a huge demand for both Malta online casinos and online sports betting in many parts of the world, and changing regulations have made it safer and easier to access.
Malta has been a big part of this growth, helping to introduce standards and regulations that protect players and provide a high level of security. Now, the small European island nation is one of the biggest players in the market.
But how exactly did this happen, and what challenges and opportunities face the Malta iGaming industry?
Malta’s iGaming industry growth
In 2004, Malta became the first EU member state to bring in laws and regulations to control online gambling, which was still an emerging market at the time. You can find out more about the iGaming industry in Malta at online-gambling.com/malta. The first online casinos may have appeared in 1999, but it took some time for them to really become popular. As technology improved, they became more widespread. However, players had no way to know which of these early gambling sites were trustworthy.
When Malta set up the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) in 2001, it was done with the intention of creating new laws and regulations that would allow online casino Malta sites to operate properly and keep players safe. The organisation began the long process of drawing up sensible rules that would allow the industry to grow and thrive while also ensuring the highest standards in terms of security and safety.
The Remote Gambling Regulations fully legalised online gambling on the island while also providing more favourable conditions for gambling operators, including tax incentives. As a result, Malta became a premier destination for iGaming companies. Soon, some of the biggest gambling operators in Europe were setting up their headquarters on the island. Today, the best online casino in Malta is up for debate, but there are plenty of options.
Since then, Malta has continued to attract some of the best and brightest minds in the iGaming industry. Companies that set up operations on the island not only benefit from lower tax rates than elsewhere in the EU but also from a highly skilled and talented workforce.
Technological advancements and innovation in the Malta iGaming industry
Aside from regulatory advancements, the Malta iGaming industry has also benefited from new technological innovations. Since the very first online casinos, Malta and sportsbooks were established, our access to technology has improved considerably, and iGaming today looks very different to how it did back then.
Modern online casinos in Malta are marvels of technology, offering high-quality games with graphics that are difficult to distinguish from the real thing. There’s no need for players to download any software, and long loading times are a thing of the past. What’s more, all of these games can be played from mobile devices, and the majority of players now enjoy casino games from their smartphones or tablets.
Across the country, technological innovation and infrastructure have helped to develop the iGaming industry. Malta has invested heavily in high-speed internet, making it an attractive place for many technology and IT-focused companies. State-of-the-art data centres also provide much-needed resources for the best online casinos in Malta that want to give the best experience to players around the world.
Malta has also become home to several live casino studios. These are production studios which film and live stream casino games to iGaming platforms. Players can enjoy the immersive experience of a real online casino in Malta, with multiple languages supported. Companies such as Evolution have pioneered the live gaming market, using Malta as the base for their production.
Challenges for the future of online gambling in Malta
Although the iGaming industry has had a positive contribution to the country, the industry still faces challenges. In June 2021, the country was put under the spotlight by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Malta was temporarily added to the task force’s grey list of countries which cannot guarantee adequate financial safeguards.
Some international bodies have asserted that Malta’s iGaming industry has become a way for criminal organisations to launder money, and there are signs of potential corruption and fraud. This could have a major impact on the future of Malta online casino gaming, with payment processors and banks potentially declining transactions unless these issues are resolved.
Aside from the challenges posed by potential links to crime, the Malta iGaming industry must also deal with competition from other jurisdictions. While the MGA licence remains the most suitable for gambling platforms looking to operate in the EU market, other jurisdictions like Curacao now offer competing licences. The Malta Gaming Authority must continue to offer the best advantages to operators if it wants to stay competitive.
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