Setting up a gaming company in Malta is attractive for many reasons. However, applying for a remote gaming license is not so straightforward, so we are providing you here with a list frequently asked questions intended to address some questions you may have.
This FAQ is provided courtesy of Malta Gaming Authority:
The Remote Gaming Regulations established four Classes of Remote Gaming Licences:
Class 1 – a remote gaming licence (examples of Class 1 licences would include casino-type games and online lotteries) whereby operators manage their own risk on repetitive games. It is also possible to have a Class 1 on 4 licence whereby the Class 1 licensee operates its games on the software and in certain cases through the equipment of a Class 4 licensee;
Class 2 – a remote betting licence (an example of a Class 2 licence would include fixed-odds betting) whereby operators manage their own risk on events based on a matchbook. It is possible to have a Class 2 on 4 licence whereby the Class 2 licensee operates its games on the software and in certain cases through the equipment of a Class 4 licensee;
Class 3 – a licence to promote and/or abet remote gaming in or from Malta (an example of a Class 3 licence would include poker networks, peer-to-peer (P2P) gaming and game portals). It is also possible to have a Class 3 on 4 licence whereby the Class 3 licensee operates its games on the software and in certain cases through the equipment of a Class 4 licensee;
Class 4 – a licence to host and manage remote gaming operators, excluding the licensee itself, whereby software vendors provide management and hosting facilities on their platform. In essence this is a business to business (B2B) gaming licence.
The fees due to the Authority include:
- application fees – €2,330
- yearly licence fees – €25,000*
- renewal fees – €1,500
- approval fees for Transfer or Assignment of Licence – €1,500
- administrative fees (where applicable)
*Where an operator has multiple B2C licences, only one annual licence fee applies
The applicable compliance contribution can be found in the Gaming Licence Fees Regulations 3(1) and Second Schedule 3(2).
The application process goes through five stages, namely:
- ‘Fit and proper’ Exercise
- Business Planning Review
- Compliance with Operational & Statutory Requirements
- System Audit
- Compliance Audit
If all the necessary documentation is provided, the process takes between 12 to 16 weeks.
Once the application is confirmed by the MGA, the applicant will be invited to implement the gaming system onto a technical environment and will be given a time-frame of 60 days to Go Live. If the operation is not completed during this timeframe, the request for the licence will be considered as suspended and subject to re-application. On successful completion of implementing the gaming system onto a technical environment, the MGA will issue a five-year licence.
The KO is the liaison person between the Authority and the licensee. Therefore the designated official must always keep abreast of all the operations being undertaken by the licensee. The KO must be a director of the licensee and must be physically present in Malta. The KO’s responsibilities are to:
- personally supervise the operations of the licensee;
- ensure that the licensee complies with all applicable laws and regulations, the conditions of the licence and any directives issued by the Authority to the licensee.
No, the Authority does not licence such activities.
Fantasy sports are a licensable activity in terms of the Skill Games Regulations (S.L. 438.11) and the specific ruling on fantasy sports issued as per regulation 6 thereof.
Before any such transfer may take place, the Authority’s approval in writing must be obtained. The Authority may request that it is presented with any documents which it deems necessary for it to decide whether to approve or otherwise the request being made by the licensee. Inter alia, the information and documents required by the Authority in order to process a request for approval of a transfer are:
- detailed information on how the shares of the licensee will be allotted, including a diagram indicating the proposed shareholding and corporate setup;
When a company is involved in the transfer, the following information about each acquiring company involved in the transfer must be submitted to the Authority:
- who the acquiring company’s shareholders/ultimate beneficiaries are and the percentage of their respective shareholding;
- certified true copies of the acquiring company’s Memorandum & Articles;
- certified true copy of the relevant excerpt from the shareholder’s register;
- Personal Declaration Forms (PDF) (including copy of passport, passport photo, original birth certificate, police conduct certificate, police conviction sheet, bank reference) for all directors, chief executive officer and every ultimate beneficiary owner having an interest in the company amounting to 5% or more.
- copy of licence to offer gaming services in any other jurisdiction (if any);
- audited accounts of the acquiring company;
- where the acquiring company intends to change any relevant structures and/or procedures in the gaming operation, submissions must be made to the Authority indicating the proposed changes for review (reference should be made to the second stage documentation checklist);
- a copy of the proposed transfer agreement;
- a certificate of good standing of the acquiring company.
When an individual is involved in the transfer, such person is to submit a Personal Declaration Form (PDF), attaching all the necessary documents indicated in the same form.
Yes, the Authority may issue such licences and, in fact, has issued licences to operators having a physical live gaming broadcasting set up within an approved jurisdiction, and within a licensed land-based Casino or a studio, transmitting live feeds online via webcam and integrated into an online gaming system. Such operations are licensed under a Class 1 Licence.
When the Authority receives a complaint from a player, it either investigates the complaint directly or refers such complaint to the relevant licensee. In the latter scenario, the licensee is bound to reply in writing within a period of twenty-one (21) days, stating the results of the inquiry it conducted into such complaint. The player is subsequently informed in writing by the Authority of the outcome of any inquiry whereby reasons are given for the conclusions that are reached. If a complaint is addressed to the Authority and investigations reveal that the company is not licensed by the Authority, the player is informed of this fact and is directed to the relevant jurisdiction where the complaint may be addressed.
One of the main roles of the Authority is to safeguard the protection of minors and vulnerable persons. The Authority has set certain limits on advertising by regulating that it is not permissible to:
- encourage anyone to contravene a gaming law;
- feature people under eighteen (18) years of age in advertisements promoting gambling;
- encourage or target people under eighteen (18) years of age to gamble;
- suggest that gambling is a form of financial investment;
- promote smoking and/ or the excessive consumption of alcohol while gambling;
- tarnish the goodwill and privilege that is associated or related in any manner whatsoever with being a licensee, or to tarnish the image or reputation of another licensee.
The complete restrictions are established in the Code of Conduct on Advertising, Promotions and Inducements issued by the Authority. Furthermore, in the case of online gaming licensees, irrespective of where they promote their services, advertising cannot:
- imply that remote gaming is a means of social acceptance, personal or financial success or the resolution of any social, economic or personal problems;
- be directed at encouraging individuals under eighteen (18) years of age to engage in remote gaming;
- exceed the limits of decency;
- be endorsed by a well-known personality whereby it is suggested that remote gaming contributed to that person’s success;
- be conducted through the sending of unsolicited electronic mail.
Player funds are protected since:
- a client’s account is set up by the licensee, which account is held with a credit institution approved by the Authority and is separate from the licensee’s own funds;
- the client’s account cannot be used to rectify/indemnify any of the licensee’s financial difficulties since such account is distinct from the licensee;
- the Authority may request the licensee to issue a bank guarantee in the Authority’s favour in order to protect the players’ funds;
- the credit institution is to disclose any information requested by the Authority regarding players’ accounts;
- the licensee cannot deal with the amount of money in the player’s account except in the circumstances established in the Regulations;
- if a player’s account is dormant for thirty months, the licensee is to try to contact the player to refund the remaining balance and, if not successful, shall transfer the money to the Authority;
- upon the player’s request, his/her funds will be returned to the account from which they were originally withdrawn within five working days or within a period of time which is reasonably necessary to verify certain details and activities of the player’s account as established in the Regulations.
The Systems Audit will audit the live environment against the proposed application. At this stage the MGA expects minimal deviation from the application. Any significant changes to the gaming system will require the applicant to re-submit a fresh application. On successful completion of the certification process, the Authority will issue a five-year licence.
Employees enjoying positions of responsibility in terms of the Authority’s Fit and Proper Guidelines must be authorised by the Authority prior to taking up employment with the licensee. The Key Official must submit a Personal Declaration Form for such employees, together with all the supporting documentation. Such application is processed to confirm that the proposed individual is “fit and proper” to be employed by a remote gaming licensee. If all the requirements are satisfied, the Authority issues the relevant approval. The Authority should also be informed of instances when employment is terminated.
The licensee who is licensed by the Authority is to setup a player’s account as established by the Regulations, with all the necessary safeguards, and subsequently always ensure that the amount in such an account is equal to or greater than the licensee’s client liabilities.
No, the Authority does not license software separately from the gaming operation as the review of such software is an integral part of the licensing process.
Yes. The Authority needs to be notified about each deviation from the approved framework, and depending on the extent of the change, Authority approval may be required. The licensee is obliged to inform the Authority prior to implementing any such changes. On the other hand, if the change is needed to rectify a technical problem, the licensee needs to fill in the appropriate incident report and change management forms.
Yes. The Regulations are technology-neutral. Thus various delivery channels by means of distance communications can be approved by the Authority.
The Authority requires a company applying for a licence to have the following minimum issued paid up share capital when registering the company with the competent authority:
- Class 1 – €100,000
- Class 2 – €100,000
- Class 3 – €40,000
- Class 4 – €40,000
Furthermore, companies applying for multiple licences should have the cumulative of the requirements hereby established, up to a maximum €240,000.