Eventually, every industry matures. It’s the natural order of things. And online industries are no exception. The tech industry is much different now than it was in the high-flying ‘90s. Downloading music digitally used to be revolutionary. Now it’s the norm.
In 2007, the iPhone captured the world’s imagination. Now, it’s a maturing market with winners and losers. Android phones are more popular globally, while iPhones are luxury items. Smartphone operating systems are stable. Battery life is improving, and owning a smartphone is a completely normal part of everyday life for many people. The online gaming industry has also undergone a maturation process. When the first online gaming operations opened for business, it was the wild, wild west. Yes, it’s a bit cliche. But it’s absolutely true.
There were no rules, just entrepreneurs trying to make money. Some went about it ethically. Others didn’t. Too many didn’t. So the need for rules, regulations and order grew. Malta was a critical part of the maturation process of the online gaming industry. In 2004, it became the first EU jurisdiction to license and regulate online gaming. Malta’s regulatory standards were tough but fair, and it quickly became a coveted license. According to Malta’s Gaming Authority (MGA), Malta has received more than 450 remote gaming applications since 2004.
The industry has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. It experienced a significant boom period as online gaming grew rapidly globally. And over the past few years, it’s gone through a limited growth and consolidation period, seeing some mergers and acquisitions. The consolidation period has been marked by a significant shift in both the economic and regulatory landscape in Europe, Struggling economies have resulted in less discretionary spending available for online gaming.
And a general European movement to eschew a one-market philosophy for online gaming in favor of country-by-country regulations has increased operating and compliance costs. To understand how the industry has changed over the last five years, it’s useful to look at Casino City’s data on the online gaming industry. Casino City collects data on all aspects of the online gaming industry.
From operators to suppliers, vendors, jurisdictions and everything in between, Casino City’s publications and websites provide quality data about the industry and very good snapshots over time. In 2009, there were 2189 online gaming sites in Casino City’s comprehensive database of online gaming sites (online. casinocity.com). By 2014, that number was 2852.
In 2009, there 180 software suppliers in Casino City’s database. By 2014, that number was 381. And as of press time, there were more than 2,900 companies in Casino City’s iGamingSuppliers database (iGamingSuppliers.com). The iGamingSuppliers database lists industry suppliers, vendors and manufacturers by product and service category. Among the product and service categories are advertising, business administration, finance and accounting, games software, MIS, IT and Communications, payment solutions, security and fraud, and turnkey solution providers. Currently 7.6 percent of the companies in Casino City’s iGamingSuppliers database lists a Malta address. So with these numbers as a backdrop, where does Mata’s iGaming industry go from here? Clearly, the licensing and regulating of online gaming companies will continue to be a central pillar of Malta’s iGaming industry. Malta has a well respected regulatory scheme that will continue to attract operators.
But with more European nations looking at individually licensing online gaming, it’s a challenging environment. The supplier sector, on the other hand, is an opportunity for real growth. With a healthy supply of operators in Malta, everyone from Know Your Customer (KYC) vendors to payment processors and game developers has a good incentive to set up shop in Malta.
Silicon Valley is the living, breathing heart of innovation in computers and the Internet. Malta can be online gaming’s Silicon Valley. Every technological advancement should be a result of work done in Malta. Every paradigm shift in the industry should be driven by work done in Malta. Malta can be an incubator for new and established companies looking to make their mark. That’s a lofty mark to hit. But with Malta’s history and place in the online gaming industry, it is certainly one that can be reached.
Casino City’s gaming directories and publications are available for purchase at Casino City/GPWA booths at various gaming shows and online at CasinoCityPress.com.