Malta as an i-Gaming hub: getting better

Published on the Malta Independant 16th January 2011

Malta is regarded as one of the leading international hubs that regulate remote gaming effectively and responsibly. In fact¸ the island has become a benchmark of how i-Gaming should be regulated. As a reflection of its professional approach to remote gaming regulation¸ the country has become the jurisdiction of choice for the industry; a jurisdiction which believes that all stakeholders have a role to play¸ both in maintaining it as well as developing it further in the years to come. 

The island prides itself on being a microcosm of Europe and as such is a good testing ground for products/concepts with an infrastructure that is generally good¸ cost effective and is constantly improving particularly in the ICT sector. They say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the taste is first class – Malta prides itself on having over 300 active licensees.

It is a proven fact that the i-Gaming industry is encouraged by government initiative and state-of-the-art telecoms infrastructure¸ which the island offers as one of the most progressive environments in the world for IT¸ remote gaming and e-Business activities. Investment in ICT is increasing at a rapid pace. Naturally¸ i-Gaming companies rely heavily on quality ICT infrastructure. A typical ICT development is SmartCity; a brainchild of the renowned Dubai Internet City¸ Tecom Investments is investing US$300 million in an ICT hub. This reaffirms the island’s initiative to become the European outpost for global ICT or i-Gaming companies that want to establish a presence in Europe. This project fits in well with Malta’s aspirations in the ITC sector given that Microsoft¸ Cisco and Oracle have all established a significant presence on the island.

They aim to set up a research and development testing ground for ICT related companies. Another major advantage of choosing Malta is secure and reliable links to the Internet for passing large volumes of data traffic. In terms of data links¸ Vodafone Malta took a strategic decision in 2003 to have its own submarine data cable between Malta and Sicily. Commissioned in 2004¸ this doubled the number of international data links connecting Malta to the rest of the world. One recalls how data traffic at the start of i-Gaming community in 2001 was rather small – a few tens of megabits – but has grown exponentially since then. Three operators are competing to provide quality and reliable bandwidth via a submarine cable to the Italian mainland. In terms of technology¸ the fibre-optic submarine data cable remains an important link between Malta and the rest of the world¸ an extremely sensitive link without which the i-gaming industry would not exist in Malta. But another important ingredient for the island’s success is regulation. The industry is strictly regulated by an efficient team at the Malta Lotteries and Gaming headed by Rueben Portanier¸ a veteran in the ICT and i-Gaming sector. The regulation is fair but strictly enforced to ensure total protection to players while offering a competitive gaming and corporate tax structure.

As of 2009 the allocation of licensees is as follows; –

But the industry is facing challenges in cross-border issues particularly as other EU countries wish to restrict the provision of gaming services to their citizens. Thus Malta welcomes any rationalization of the online gaming sector that is generating a generous contribution to its GDP. But as always¸ our continued success to be the leading hub in Europe is not guaranteed and we have seen many EU members gearing up to compete and