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The Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) and Gaming Tax in Malta: Part 2

There seems to be a competition between the different regulators in different Jurisdictions on who can create the longest documents with the most irrelevant information. The Maltese Law has retained its original number of pages. The Maltese document specifies only what type of hardware and software is required and does not delve into the particular technology. For example it states that the system must be secure, without going into how the system is to be secured. Then the LGA issues directives and policies in circumstances where they are needed. The LGA also issues check lists which try to ensure that the correct policies are in place. But check lists are not directive or policies and these check lists are being criticised that they are checking aspects that are irrelevant or unimportant to the operations. Some of the checks or control are being seen by the operators, as having no real objective and satisfy no security measure.

On the request of the original operators in Malta, gaming tax in Malta, and the Malta Remote Gaming Council, the LGA does not allow players from the USA to utilise the services of Maltese registered companies. The payment gateways and banks also require that operators do not accept players from the USA. Although it is not in the law, not to accept players from the USA, the LGA has practically made it a directive. This stance was introduced to protect the gaming companies, from the USA, where it is deemed illegal to pass payment to gaming companies.

In Malta there are four classes of licences – class 1, class 2, class 3 and class 4. Licences are granted for a period of five years. Class 4 refers to a platform, which is the Business to Business, and other operators use it to offer their service to the Customer.  Class 4 is a fixed tax. For the first six months of operation, it is at € 0 per month, in order to give the operators a chance to set up. For the next six months it is € 2,330 per month, then for the next four years, class 4 holders pay € 4,660 per month. This fee is irrespective if the company has one operator or a hundred operators, utilising that platform. Class 1 licence is for Casino providers. Casinos utilising the class 4 platform pay € 1,200 a month in gaming tax, irrespective of turnover. A class 1 on its own – it has its own system and is not based on a class 4, cost € 7,000 a month, irrespective of turnover. Class 2, is the sportsbook, costs 0.5% on turnover, but capped at a maximum of € 466,000 annually.  A class 3, which is poker, is calculated at 5% on net income4, up to a maximum of € 466,000 annually.  In class 1 and class 4, the maximum capping does not apply as it is a fixed fee. Thus operators are fully aware of what their gaming tax will be.

Apart from the Gaming Tax, an operator needs to pay a license fee. This is € 1,500 per annum per license. An operator needs a separate licence for each different type of game that is being offered. If an operator offers sportsbook and two types of poker, that operator has a class 2 and two class 3 licenses, and has to pay € 4,500 annually in licence fees. The class 2 gaming tax and double the class 3 gaming tax will have to be paid. This can become a complication when an operator is offering a number of different services.

Source: M. Azzopardi: A Study of Locality Choices by ICT and I-Gaming Companies in Malta, 2012.

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