Spotlighting Malta's Thriving iGaming Business Scene

Malta is abuzz with iGaming business. The tiny Mediterranean island has developed into the booming epicentre of the European gaming industry.

The concentration of iGaming business activity is so high that 10% of the world's iGaming companies are based on the island. Impressive considering that it has a population of little over half a million and an area of 316 km² (that's an eighth the size of Luxembourg).

iGaming companies contributed €700M to the Maltese economy in just the first half of 2023. A total exceeded only by retail, accommodation, and food as the top contributing private sectors - a sure measure of the iGaming industry's footing.

So, what's the appeal of this small island nation?

The immediate outward appeal of Malta is obvious. The country is bathed in over 300 days of sunshine each year and features some of Europe's most picturesque coastal waters to cool off in, such as the famous Blue Lagoon and St. Peter's Pool.

The island also boasts a rich history and cultural heritage, notably having 365 churches - one for every day of the year - that play host to many holy relics and great works of art. It's also renowned for its mighty megalithic temples, which are some of the oldest free-standing stone structures in the world.

But iGaming companies haven't come here just for the sun-kissed beaches and ancient artefacts. Clearly, Malta has been doing something right to have created the conditions to draw so much iGaming talent to its shores.

Home to 300+ Licensed Companies

iGaming has a very visible presence in Malta, with more than 300 companies and over 12,000 individuals working in the sector, making up 5% of the country's total workforce.

Succeeding in such a crowded market demands excellence in iGaming marketing if companies are serious about rising above the competition and Malta's busy calendar of iGaming events provides companies with plenty of opportunity to show off what makes them stand out from the crowd.

iGaming conferences gather operators, suppliers, and affiliates all under one roof for multi-day networking extravaganzas, giving suppliers the ideal platform to showcase their products and services.

Not only do events like SiGMA and MiGEA celebrate the industry's movers and shakers, they also foster a culture of collaboration, creating connections between industry players who can convene to share ideas, hash out business proposals, and make major deals that have the potential to shape the course of the iGaming's future.

As a final note, these events' unmissable no-expense-spared after-parties are something to behold - but that's a topic for another day!

What is iGaming's Big Appeal?

iGaming represents an exciting and dynamic industry for an increasing number of job-seekers, and Malta represents a highly concentrated and bustling job market for the sector.

Successful companies on the island have placed great value on promoting a healthy work-life balance. Staff having plenty of time to pursue leisure activities has resulted in an active social scene based around iGaming and strong staff retention rates.

This is an area where again, Malta finds itself out in front. The combination of a lower commute distance than is common in larger countries, competitive working conditions, and thriving nightlife make Malta a refreshingly different and laid-back environment for iGaming professionals.

Increased demand for iGaming jobs has also stimulated the island's housing market, to the point where a few estate agents and freelance realtors now provide services catering solely to iGaming tenants.

Anyone looking to enhance their iGaming job prospects when they get here, whether they are newcomers looking to enter the industry or experienced iGaming employees looking to hone their skills, can take a course at Malta's iGaming Academy. The academy offers training in skills applicable across a wide range of business types, from online casino operators to iGaming affiliates. More recently, a new initiative, Why iGaming, was set up to help get more Maltese natives into the industry.

A World-Leading Digital Hub

This influx of foreign professionals has spilled over into other fast-growing sectors like FinTech and in particular, the burgeoning cryptocurrency scene. It has also contributed to the diverse expatriate community, who have little trouble integrating themselves into the relaxed Maltese way of life. All of this is made easier with English being the nation's official second language, with almost everyone on the island being proficient in the language.

Malta's telecommunications infrastructure has undergone extensive development in recent years to keep up with the high demand made of the service by the iGaming sector, to the extent that 50% of the island's bandwidth usage is dedicated to online gambling. Robust telecommunications are absolutely critical for iGaming outfits which rely on the very fastest processing speeds that enable them to process millions of transactions every single day.

Together, these factors mark Malta as a leading player in the global iGaming space. Mighty impressive for a nation with the lowest population of all EU member states.

A Favourable Climate for iGaming

One of the most respected gaming authorities in the world, the MGA has been a significant player in putting Malta on the map. In 2004, Malta became the first EU member state to introduce regulations governing remote gambling - thanks in no small part to the efforts of its governing body.

This proved to be a critical advantage over rival jurisdictions, catapulting Malta to the very forefront of the global market. Committed to protecting its prestigious position, the MGA continues to develop its regulatory framework.

An MGA-accredited license is considered the 'gold standard' for any existing iGaming business, as well as those looking to establish a foothold in the international market. Formed in 2001, the MGA is principally charged with ensuring fairness and transparency, while safeguarding against crime and money laundering. Its functions are wide-ranging and include ensuring the integrity of games via audits, monitoring activities to keep games and funds out of criminal reach, and providing guidance throughout the license application process.

The MGA has worked tirelessly to create a favourable business climate for potential operators through various cost-saving initiatives. For example, a Malta B2C (Business to Customer) license comes with a price tag of €25,000 - significantly lower than fees quoted by iGaming regulators in other jurisdictions. Malta-licensed iGaming outfits also benefit from Gaming Tax rates that clock in at just 5% - easily the lowest rate offered anywhere in Europe. What's more, tax credits are issued to companies dedicated to iGaming-related research and development projects, as further incentive to operate in the country.

In return, iGaming's collective workforce has contributed handsomely to Government coffers in recent years, with the industry accounting for 12.2% of the entire Maltese GDP in the first half of 2023. The MGA has clearly succeeded in positioning Malta as an ideal operational hub for iGaming enterprises. As they say: 'Build it, and they will come'.