Since 2000, the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta has been the hub of the online iGaming market. Above everything else, the country's love for gambling is well-known because of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), which is highly respected all over Europe.
MGA is the body regulating sports betting and gambling in the country, and over the years, hundreds of casinos, software providers, and online sportsbooks have acquired a license from this authority.
The initial steps toward the legislation of online sports betting in Malta began in 2000 when the country introduced the Public Lotto Ordinance to oversee online gambling regulation. In 2001, the lawmakers implemented both the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) and the Lotteries and Other Games Act.
The Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) was later renamed the Malta Gaming Authority, as it is popularly known today. The MGA was one of the first-ever authorities to issue legislation that monitors online sports betting and gambling activities.
In 2004, when the country joined the EU, it became the first European Union nation to regulate online gambling. A year later, in 2005, the country implemented the Remote Gaming Regulations. With this implementation, online gaming operators could apply for any of the four license types in the country. Today, the country issues the following licenses.
Class 1 licenses cover online lotteries, casino games, and skill games.
Class 2 licenses cover spread, pool, and fixed odds betting.
Class 3 licenses that cover betting exchanges and peer-to-peer gaming.
Lastly, Class 4 licenses cover all software vendors.
To get a gambling license in the country, operators must pay a license fee of €25,000. The gambling operators have to pay a request to process the application costing €2,300. Every ten years, the online gambling operators must renew their licenses to continue operating.
Currently, the Maltese gaming scene has over a hundred online sports betting operators with valid Class 2 licenses. A vast majority of the well-known sportsbooks in the world, such as 888Sport and Bet365 hold this license too.
As the first EU country with a regulatory authority on interactive wagering and gaming, Malta held gambling operators accountable for their actions. Today, the MGA issues gambling licenses in the country. Before issuing licenses, gambling operators must go through a rigorous quality, anti-fraud, and security checks, and the rules and regulations that accompany every gambling license are quite strict.
With this, one of the smallest nations in the world brought credibility to the growing online betting industry marred with suspicion. The MGA enforces various regulations concerning Maltese online sports gambling licenses. Currently, hundreds of casino sites, online betting apps, software developers, and betting exchanges are under the MGA’s jurisdiction.
The regulatory body is entirely legitimate in that it is among the authorities whitelisted by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission. This means that all MGA-licensed operators can advertise their services in the United Kingdom. Sportsbooks that breach the rules and regulations set by the MGA may have their licenses revoked.
When a bookmaker acquires an MGA license, it can attract more customers. This is because the MGA ensures:
High safety standards: The Malta Gaming Authority’s logo on any sports betting operator’s site signifies safety and trust. Players that opt for bookies licensed by MGA are guaranteed that their banking details and personal information are secure.
Appropriate resolution of complaints: The MGA obliges all licensed sports betting operators to accept players’ complaints. They have to issue appropriate complaint resolution within twenty-one days, after which MGA can take up the complaints.
Solid customer protection: The rules and regulations of this regulatory body require all licensed bookies to work together with responsible gambling bodies such as GamCare. Furthermore, MGA has the Responsible Gaming Foundation that helps in promoting responsible wagering.
Despite its many benefits, having an MGA gambling license has a few downsides. These include, for example.
Slow complaint resolutions: Players have to wait for up to twenty-one days to receive a proper response. In addition, there is no guarantee that the complaint will be resolved properly.
Unspecified self-exclusion programs: Although the Malta Gaming Authority has the Responsible Gaming Commission, it has yet to introduce a self-exclusion scheme.
Strict verification procedures: The MGA rules and regulations require bettors to undergo a rigorous Know Your Customer (KYC) process. This process requires a player to provide verification documents when opening a sports betting account.
June 20, 2023: The Maltese parliament passes Bill 55, now known as Act No. XXI of 2023, which shields Malta-based offshore operators from foreign legal action. The new controversial law prohibits recognizing or enforcing foreign judgments against Malta-licensed operators operating in Europe.
March 9, 2023: The MGA and the BWF Integrity Unit sign an agreement to collaborate on detecting and addressing suspicious gambling activity in badminton.
March 6, 2023: Betsson Group introduces a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) network in Malta to promote inclusivity, facilitate discussions on diversity, and create a welcoming work environment.
January 23, 2023: The MGA requests licensees to participate in a survey on ESG matters as they consider implementing a voluntary ESG code of conduct in response to increasing awareness.
January 18, 2023: Betting giant DraftKings has decided to cease its daily fantasy sports (DFS) operations in several major European markets, including Malta, starting January 22.
January 13, 2023: The Malta Gaming Authority updates its Player Protection Directive, now requiring licensees to implement measures to identify and address problem gambling risks for their customers.
January 11, 2023: The number of active player accounts with Malta-licensed operators peaked in the first half of 2022, surpassing previous records. After a decline in 2021, there has been an 8.7% year-on-year increase to 19.3 million accounts, which beats the previous high of 19.0 million in the second half of 2020.
January 5, 2023: BetConstruct receives approval from the MGA to enable cryptocurrency deposits. This decision allows BetConstruct to expand its operations, cater to cryptocurrency users, and offer cryptocurrency gambling services across its white-label product and Vbet brand.
June 21, 2023: MKC Limited's license is revoked due to several regulatory breaches, including non-payment of licensing fees and failure to fulfill financial obligations. The MGA also notes the company's inability to meet customer commitments but did not provide further details.
April 19, 2023: MGA revokes the license of software provider 4tune-Software GmbH due to non-compliance with regulatory payment obligations.
April 19, 2023: Totup System's license is revoked due to multiple breaches, including failure to pay the applicable license fees, amounting to €50,000, for 2022 and 2023.
February 20, 2023: BetDino's license is voided due to the operator's failure to pay the required fees to the regulator within the specified timeframe.
January 23, 2023: The Malta Gaming Authority suspends the license of Betago due to the operator's failure to fulfill financial obligations and pay the required fees to the regulatory body.
January 17, 2023: Genesis Global's license is canceled due to the operator's insolvency and decision to wind up the business, resulting in a breach of gambling regulations.
June 30, 2023: The Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) fines Glitnor Group, operator of Lucky Casino, €236,789 for multiple violations of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulations. The penalty follows a 2019 compliance review identifying ten breaches of Malta's regulations.
March 10, 2023: Casino Malta is fined €233,834 by Malta's FIAU for failing to conduct proper due diligence and implement effective risk assessment procedures. The FIAU highlighted a specific case where a customer connected to Turkey could spend €1m in cash without the operator verifying the source of funds.
Sports wagering fans all over Europe can place bets through various Malta-licensed betting operators. However, it has always been challenging to find the best sportsbook since there are so many to choose from. But in Malta, the following bookies stand out from the rest.
1. Bet365 Malta: As one of the leading bookmakers in football betting, Bet 365 has 100+ markets for bettors to wager daily. Denise Coates founded the bookie in 2000, but it officially launched in England a year later. Since then, the betting site has been constantly updated with popular sporting events in Europe and worldwide.
2. 888Sport: This sports betting site began operations in Europe back in 2008 and has grown to be one of the best. Its parent company is 888 Holdings, before the site was developed, they studied various competitors to create a reputable platform. Today, 888Sport offers casino and sports betting services to players in Africa, Europe, and the United States.
A wide range of Malta-licensed betting sites offer a variety of bonuses and promos, with the most common ones being.
Welcome bonuses: Many bookies usually give new players a sign-up bonus for opting to join the platform. However, the players can only claim this bonus if they make the minimum deposit per the bookie’s terms and conditions. Sportsbooks issue this kind of bonus to help players increase their chances of winning. For instance, Conquestador Sports offers a €2,500 Welcome Bonus.
Free bets: This is yet another betting promotion that is quite common in Malta. Sportsbook operators occasionally give customers betting credits that they can wager with instead of using real money. The catch is that the player must first deposit and bet with a specified amount of money to unlock the credits. For example, 888Sport offers $30 in free bets when a bettor uses the code 30FB.
Yes, all sports betting sites with valid licenses from the Malta Gaming Authority are safe to bet with. This is because all of them must undergo rigorous quality, anti-fraud, and security checks before the MGA licenses them.
Since it was established in 2001, the Malta Gaming Authority has been the body that regulates online gambling and sports betting. MGA is in charge of issuing the four different types of gambling licenses and thus enforcing rules and regulations.
Over the years, the Malta Gaming Authority has issued licenses to hundreds of online betting sites in the country and across the globe. To find out more about the licensed sportsbook apps and sites, a player can visit MGA's official website.
First, all sports betting operators with valid licenses from the Malta Gaming Authority will display the same on their sites. Second, bettors can still confirm if the bookie truly has a valid license by accessing the MGA webpage.
Gambling license fees in Malta depend on the class the license falls under. For instance, Classes 1, 2, and 3 licenses attract a non-refundable fee of €25,000 annually. A Class 4 license requires all interested parties to pay €10,000 annually.
The Malta Gaming Authority has issued licenses to several online sports betting sites over the years. This license allows sportsbooks to offer their services in all EU nations, thus earning more profit. An MGA license indicates trust and safety as well.