The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has revealed that the gambling industry’s direct contribution to the Maltese economy grew to €1.1bn in 2017.
The MGA generated total revenue of €66.3m in licence fees, gaming tax and other administrative fees and fines in 2017, an increase of 6 per cent compared to the previous year.
The direct contribution of the gaming industry to the Maltese economy was valued at €1.bn for the year, an increase of 10 per cent and equivalent to around 11 per cent of the country’s total economic activity. This consolidated the gaming industry’s position as the third largest sector in the economy.
Within the gaming industry there were 5,861 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs, with 5,861 relating to the remote sector and 812 for land-based gaming. Including other associated businesses, approximately 9,800 full time jobs have been created directly in the sector.
The MGA also revealed that it received 220 licence applications during the year, issuing 165 remote gaming licences to 112 operators.
There are now 625 remote gaming licences issued by the MGA, an increase of over 110 compared to last year, with 294 companies currently in operation. The growth was driven in part by the introduction of a games of skill licensing regime, with 16 licences issued in the sector.
In total, licensed operators contributed gaming tax revenue of €59.1m during the year, up 5 per cent year-on-year.
The period also saw 38 licences terminated at the operators’ requests, while the Authority’s Enforcement Unit suspended five licences due to regulatory breaches by operators. A further three licences were cancelled during the year.
The MGA said that the industry is expected to continue to grow “markedly” in 2018 and 2019, with the results of surveys undertaken by the regulator indicating an expected growth in gross gaming revenue (GGR) and employment, averaging around 15 per cent in terms of GGR and 10 per cent in terms of employment.
At the same time, existing operators expect to increase their expenditure in Malta, in a range of between 8 per cent to 13 per cent per annum over the next two years, further contributing to growth.
The regulator also revealed that over the last three years, players within the 25-34 age group constituted the largest category of remote gaming players, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of all customers playing on the websites regulated by the MGA in 2017. Customers within the demographically wider 35-54 age group constituted 31 per cent of the player base.
The regulator added that its primary focus in 2017 was the finalisation of the new Gaming Act, which is expected to come into force later this year, despite its implementation being delayed in light of comments by the European Commission and European Union member states.
It also focussed on the enhancement of its compliance systems, including the requirements of the EU 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive, as well as its IT systems through the introduction of the Licensee Relationship Management System (LRMS), a secure portal featuring a one-stop shop for licensing and reporting.
“Last year was perhaps one of the most exciting years for the MGA,” said MGA chief executive Heathcliff Farrugia. “The ongoing efforts and relentless work of MGA officials on the various projects the authority embarked upon was reaching its final stages, with the new regulatory framework and the 4AMLD being the most notable ones.
“Their introduction in 2018, coupled with the investment in IT systems shall continue to elevate our regulatory standards, by strengthening our controls and empowering the authority to adopt a risk based approach towards enforcement and supervision.”