Companies wishing to operate an online gaming company in or from Malta must possess a valid licence issued by the MGA, being either a B2C or a B2B licence.
B2C Gaming Licence in Malta
The B2C licence is referred to as a Gaming Service Licence and is required for the provisions of both or either of the following services:
offering, provision or operation of a gaming service;
hosting by a person in his premises accessible to the public, the operation or making available for use a gaming device or gaming system.
B2B Gaming Licence in Malta
The B2B Licence is referred to as a Critical Gaming Supply Licence, and the following services shall each constitute a critical gaming supply:
- supply and management of material elements of a game;
- supply and management of software, to generate, capture, control or process essential regulatory record and/or supply and management of the control system itself on which the software resides.
Applicants applying for either a B2C or a B2B Licence can offer one or more of the following game types:
- Type 1 – Games of chance played against the house, the outcome of which is determined by a random generator, and shall include casino-type games, including roulette, blackjack, baccarat, poker played against the house, lotteries, secondary lotteries and virtual sports games; and/or;
- Type 2 – Games of chance played against the house, the outcome of which is not generated randomly, but is determined by the result of an event or competition extraneous to a game of chance, and whereby the operator manages his or her own risk by managing the odds offered to the player; and/or;
- Type 3 – Games of chance not played against the house and wherein the operator is not exposed to gaming risk, but generates revenue by taking a commission or other charge based on the stakes or the prize, and shall include player versus player games such as poker, bingo, betting exchange, and other commission-based games; and/or;
- Type 4 – Controlled skill games & Fantasy Sports
Where a game displays elements which may fall under more than one of the types referred to above, the Authority shall have full discretion in categorising the game in the type it believes closest reflects the nature of the game.
The Authority does not require licensees to obtain a licence for each type of game. Operators that are already in possession of a Gaming Service Licence or Critical Gaming Supply Licence and wish to offer an additional type of game, are required to apply for the necessary approval.
Separate approval is required for each gaming vertical that requires safeguards in order to ensure that it is offered in a manner which adheres to the Law and the regulatory objectives.
A “gaming vertical” means a category of products that require said specific safeguards owing to its characteristics and the distinction between it and other categories of products. The Authority has identified the below as different verticals, not being an exhaustive list.
Casino, including live casino;
- Fixed odds betting, including live betting;
- Pool betting, including betting exchange;
- Peer-to-peer poker;
- Peer-to-peer bingo and other peer-to-peer games, but excluding pool betting, betting exchange, and poker;
- Lottery messenger services;
- Controlled skill games; and
- Any other gaming vertical which is not comprised within the above.
Where the applicant for a licence is a body corporate, such applicant may apply for a licence either for itself only or for its corporate group. In the first case, a licence and, or material supply certificate may be assigned or transferred to another entity within the same corporate group, subject to the prior written approval of the MGA and in the latter case each member of the corporate group and all of them jointly and severally shall be deemed to be a licensee.
Exemptions from Obtaining a Licence in Malta
#1 Material Gaming Supplies
A Material Gaming Supply is a gaming supply of such importance that any weakness or failure in its provision could have a significant impact on the operator’s ability to meet the operator’s obligations under the Act and all applicable regulatory instruments, or to manage the risks related to such supply; or to continue in business.
Any person offering a material gaming supply listed hereunder to an authorised person may request a material gaming supply certificate from the Authority.
The following each constitute a material gaming supply:
- Manufacturing, assembling, placing on the market, distributing, supplying, selling, leasing or transferring a gaming device;
- Providing risk management services for the operation of a licensable game;
- Providing event, content and, or odds;
- Providing fraud management services for the operation of a licensable game;
- Holding and, or managing player funds;
- Providing services relating to customer due diligence;
- Providing services related to player identity verification;
- Providing co-location services and other managed information technology services, including cloud computing services and, or decentralised hosting protocols where the latter do not amount to a critical gaming supply; and
- Providing backup and disaster recovery services
A licensee making use of or seeking to make use of a material gaming supply provided by a third party shall ensure either that such a material supplier is in possession of the said certificate, or else assume full regulatory responsibility for such supplies.
#2 Low-Risk Games
The Gaming Authorisations Regulations have classified the below as Low-Risk Games:
- Non-profit games wherein the value of the stake does not exceed five Euro per player;
- Commercial communication games not exceeding the €50,000 prize mark on a per-event basis and the collective €100,000 prize-mark per calendar month, and the €500,000 prize mark per calendar year;
- Limited commercial communication games wherein the value of the stake does not exceed €2 and the value of the prize does not exceed €250, and the cumulative prize per month does not exceed €5,000 and on a calendar year basis does not exceed €50,000.
Rather than requiring a licence, such games will be required to acquire a Low-Risk Games Permit.
#3 Skill Games
In terms of the Second Schedule of the Gaming Authorisations Regulations, skills games are exempt from the requirement of a licence. Specifically, the law defines the following as exempt:
- a game of skill which does not require a stake to enable participation, and, or does not envisage the possibility of a prize;
- a game of skill which requires a stake to enable participation and offers the possibility of a prize, unless the Authority issues a ruling determining that such a game of skill is a controlled skill game;
Whilst the burden of proving that an activity is a skill game shall rest at all times on the party operating or promoting such an activity, the Authority is vested with the sole discretion to classify an activity as a game of chance, a game of skill or otherwise, and may issue a ruling or other binding instrument determining that a game is a controlled skill game if the Authority deems it necessary and/or desirable.
The Authority, in ascertaining the nature of the game, shall consider the following:
- the presence of random draws and their effect on the outcome;
- whether the game is played for money and, or prizes with a monetary value;
- whether participation in a game involves any form of monetary commitment or commitment of monetary value;
- the possibility of any negative social impact of the game;
- whether the activity is closely associated with games of chance and/or gambling;
- the duration of each event, competition or match;
- whether, on the face of it, a skilled player is able to win more than an unskilled player;
- whether a player’s chance of winning is significantly increased by experience in playing the game;
- whether skill can be acquired through training, experience, reading literature or other educational material;
- whether a rule-set or format that is used further nullifies the effect of any element of chance;
- whether the game is played against other human players, or otherwise;
- the level of interaction between the players, the level of interaction between the operator and the players, and the level of intervention by the operator during the event, competition or match; and
- the complexity of the game, including the number of player choices and their potential effect on the outcome, and the strategies involved.
#4 Recognition Notices
Any person offering licensable games in or from Malta without an authorisation issued in terms of these regulations, but under an authorisation issued by another Member State of the EU or the EEA, or a State which is deemed by the Authority to offer safeguards largely equivalent to those offered by Maltese law, shall apply to the Authority for a recognition notice, which shall have the same effect as an authorisation issued by the Authority for the purpose of providing a gaming service, gaming supply, key function, or any other authorisation in or from Malta.