The gaming industry in Malta made a contribution of €1.56 billion to the country’s economy in 2019, a rise of 9.6% on 2018, according to figures released by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) in their latest annual report. The report also showed that the MGA has drastically increased enforcement action, cancelling a total of 14 licences during 2019. The number of companies operating in the Malta sector increased by 3.9% to 294 although was still below 2017 levels.
The €1.56 billion figure was calculated by deducting the total value of goods and services consumed from those produced. It makes gaming the third-largest contributor from the private sector to Malta’s economy. In its report, the MGA also emphasised the contribution that the sector makes through linking to other industries including financial and ICT sectors, hospitality and catering, real estate, distributive trades and professional services. In total, the gaming industry accounted for 7,417 jobs during 2019, a rise of 9.2% year-on-year, with 6,593 of these jobs in the online gaming industry.
Casino games produced 56.0% of revenue, rising from 55.4% in 2018. Of these, slots were the most popular, bringing in 74.4% of casino gaming revenue, with table games accounting for 21.5%. Sports betting was the second highest contributor, with 36.3% of revenue, with over three quarters of that amount coming from football betting. Skill games, including the use of betting exchanges and poker, produced 7.7% of revenue overall.
The increase in cancellations from 8 in 2018 to 14 in 2019 reflected a significant shift in the MGA’s focus, along with another 11 suspended licences. In their statement, Heathcliff Faruggia, the Chief Executive at the MGA, emphasised the importance of the change:
“In 2019, a great focus was placed on ensuring that the Authority’s governance and structure reflected the increased focus on compliance and enforcement. More resources were given to compliance, with the scope of implementing the risk-based approach towards regulation more effectively.”
In total, the MGA issued 53 new gaming licences, out of 89 applications. This figure was significantly lower than the 93 licences given out in 2018, but the MGA said that this was largely down to a change to its licensing system. From August 2018, operators who already had a gaming licence no longer needed a new application if they wished to provide products in a different class.
Looking to the future, the MGA also announced that it had conducted a survey of licensees in April, in order to assess the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the gaming industry. Based on the findings, they forecast that gaming revenue is likely to drop by 12% in 2020, due mainly to a dramatic drop in sports betting revenue as a result of the Europe-wide cancellation of sports.