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Maltese Government Offering Support for Operators Affected by New UK Gambling Laws

Nov 13, 2014 - by Monica Erdei
Authorities in Malta have promised to work together with locally-licensed companies

Authorities in Malta have promised to work together with locally-licensed companies

Authorities will work together with online gambling companies licensed in Malta, to reduce the impact of Britain’s latest policies.

Now that the new British gambling laws have come into force, imposing an additional license fee and – starting December 1 – a 15% point of consumption tax on overseas operators, authorities in Malta have promised to help reduce the financial blow for locally-licensed gambling companies.

During a seminar organized in preparation for the Malta iGaming Summit, Parliamentary Secretary José Herrera promised that the government will work together with the local internet gaming industry to overcome the challenges that lie ahead.

The British Government has recently introduced new laws for the gambling sector. Overseas companies are now required to obtain a UK licensed if they want to cater to British players. In addition, starting December 1 companies will have to pay more taxes to the UK Government.

Malta Independent: Government ready to help online gaming sector face overseas threats

In his speech, Herrera noted that the Lotteries and Gaming Authority in Malta has improved its ties with its British counterpart, but he added that he was disappointed to hear about the measures imposed by the UK Government.

“In our opinion, such steps may not only go against the principal guarantees of the EU treaties but could also lead to a further fragmentation of the sector, to the detriment of consumers,” he told those present at the seminar.

Nevertheless, the new laws have come into force, so the parliamentary secretary announced that the Government in Malta would strive to protect its gambling industry, even on an international level.

“We are ready to work hand in hand with operators to reduce, as much as we can, the impact that such legislation can have. Malta is proud of the regulations it provides to the sector, through which consumers are protected,” he added. Parliamentary Secretary Hon Dr José Herrera assures the Malta Chamber’s Remote Gaming Business Section that Malta will “implement attractive measures to consolidate the industry” to make Malta “the number one jurisdiction in the world”

At a business breakfast hosted by the Remote Gaming Business Section (RGBS) within The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry this July, Parliamentary Secretary José Herrera presented a few projects and initiatives of the Remote Gaming Executive Committee.

According to Herrera, 52% of all gaming income in 2013 was generated by the remote betting industry. Online gambling news also reported that the industry accounts for 12% of Malta’s GDP, employing more than 8,000 people. The Parliamentary Secretary said authorities would review the current regulations and introduce changes to make Malta a centre of excellence within the industry.

RGBS Chairman George Debrincat said: “I am delighted that we have been able to create a forum which enables us to have a positive dialogue with all the stakeholders and we are grateful to the Chamber and to Malta Chamber President Mr David Curmi for their support.”

“Our industry is part of the business mainstream in the Maltese Islands, important for jobs and economic contribution as well as for the world-class skills and infrastructures that are naturally attendant with it. For Malta to remain ahead of its counterparts, we all need to pull together, and that is part of what the RGBS is working on.”

Malta Today: Malta staunchly opposed to ‘unnecessary’ regulation of gaming industry

Malta has taken a stand against the new regulations announced by the British Government. In a speech at the EY Gaming Tax Seminar, Parliamentary secretary for competitiveness and economic growth Jose Herrera suggested that the UK’s restrictions on overseas gambling operators are “beyond what is necessary”.

For the past years, British players were free to access any number of licensed gambling sites, whether they were operated from within UK borders or from abroad. But as of November 1, companies that want to cater to local players must obtain an additional licensed from the UK Gambling Commission, pay a new license fee and – from December 1 – pay additional taxes too.

“Malta’s regulation is a strong one, based on years of experience,” Herrera said at the seminar. “We will continue to maintain that restrictions, imposed beyond what is necessary, are contrary to the principles guaranteed by the Treaties of the European Union.

“Malta has always been of the view that such a national approach to an international industry leads to fragmentation of the market, which is ultimately detrimental to the industry itself as well as consumers.

“Malta is doing everything in its power to protect this industry at an international level. We are here to listen to the industry. There must be compliance with established principles and law, but we constantly work to resist moves detrimental to business,” he added.

The Lotteries and Gaming Authority has issued 401 licenses this year, a 25% increase from last year’s 321 permits. The number of registered companies has also increased by 17%, from 220 last year to 258 at present.

The regulator has taken steps to make the licensing process faster. Processing time has been reduced by 50%. A company can now obtain a remote gambling license in about two and a half months.

“Malta is a major player in the global remote gaming industry. Our solid reputation has been instrumental in bringing about growth. And we will continue to be responsive to the needs of the industry,” Herrera maintained.

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