Malta is a good place to be a gambler. Instead of banning and attempting to prevent gambling, Malta has embraced it. The Lottery Gaming Authority (LGA) oversees a variety of casinos, gambling websites and a national lottery that are all available to citizens.
This small Mediterranean island also plays an important role in the gambling industry as a licensing authority. A good number of the biggest names in online gaming are licensed by Malta’s LGA. Some of bigger Malta betting sites include Betfair, Boss Media, Unibet and William Hill among others.
The citizens of Malta benefit not only from the freedom of gambling where and how they want, but also from the nation’s thriving online gaming industry. Licensees pay taxes and fees to set up shop in the country and that extra income goes a long ways for a nation of just 420,000 people.
Best Malta Betting Sites
Gambling licenses from Malta hold weight in the industry because they are hard to get. Maltese authorities don’t just hand out licenses to anyone with enough cash. The licensing standards are strict and oversight is effective in most cases.
Malta is one of the few licensing jurisdictions whitelisted by the UK’s Gambling Commission. What this means is the UK is so sufficiently satisfied with the licensing process and oversight that it allows Malta betting sites to advertise in the UK and offer their services to UK citizens.
However, Malta has had issues in the past. There were two cases in which online gambling sites licensed by the LGA either backed out on promises made to players or had trouble paying out winners. The licensing authority should have taken stronger action, but it reacted slowly and ineffectually.
Most licensees are perfectly safe places to play, but the past shows us that you can never be too sure. A license is a good thing to see for sure, but I also advice players to play at gambling websites that have established reputations for fair treatment of players.
Remember also that you’re under no legal obligation to only gamble at Malta-based betting sites. The Malta licensing jurisdiction is one of the biggest in the world, but it’s far from the only one. There are plenty of sites based out of the UK and Isle of Man, for example, that also host safe games. The recommendations on this page include a mix of foreign and Maltese betting sites. The one thing they all have in common is a reputation for fair gaming.
Depositing at Malta Betting Sites
Depositing is a simple matter thanks to Malta’s pro-gambling attitude. In some other countries, banks are under strict orders to block transactions to and from online casinos and bookmakers. This is not the case in Malta. You’re free to fund your account via direct bank transfers, credit cards, debit cards and a variety of e-wallets.
I’m a big fan of e-wallets because they add a degree of separation between your “normal” money in your bank account and your gambling bankroll online. An e-wallet functions almost like an online bank account in that manner. It keeps your gaming funds separate from your other money and makes it easier to move funds from one gaming site to the next.
The downside to using an e-wallet is it takes a little time to set everything up. Once you have it all finished, it’s a breeze. But for anyone looking to get started right away, the credit or debit card is the fastest method.
Malta Gambling Laws
Malta’s gambling laws are defined by the Lotteries and Other Games Act of 2001 and enforced by the Lottery Gaming Authority. The Act from 2001 was one of the first pieces of legislation in Europe to address online gambling in Malta and create a legal framework for licensing and regulating the industry.
A large portion of the Lotteries and Other Games Act is dedicated to laying forth the conditions by which operators may be licensed to offer games over the internet. Applicants are required to show financial stability, data backup plans, an ability to protect player information, and a feasible business plan.
The act further defines the terms of service required of all applicants. These include a whole variety of rules such as not extending credit to players, verifying the identities of customers and so on. Licensees are also required to grant the LGA access to their records and gaming servers for the purpose of ensuring each licensee is playing by the rules and hosting fair games.
Under the 2004 Remote Gaming Regulations, licenses may be awarded for five year periods. Licenses may be renewed prior to expiration provided the operators are in good standing and continue to show they maintain proper operation of interactive systems, that they protect the players, that they prevent money laundering and that they continue to operate in good faith for the public interest.
There are four different types of licenses that may be issued:
- Class 1: A general remote gaming license for online casinos and similar games
- Class 2: A remote betting office license for sports betting and other fixed-odds wagers
- Class 3: A license to promote and/or abet remote gaming from Malta (betting exchanges and poker)
- Class 4: A license to host and manage remote gaming operators (maintain servers and provide software solutions for operators)
The application fee for a license is set at €2,330 and if approved, the license fee is €8,500 per year. Renewal fees are paid once every five years and are set at €1,500. Once a company earns a license, it must pay 0.5% of gross gaming revenue each year to the LGA up to a maximum of €466,000. Overall, Malta isn’t a very expensive place to get a license. What makes it difficult is surviving the rigorous vetting process.
Mike Murphy is the founder of OnlineBettingSites.com and has over 10 years of experience in the legal online betting industry. A regular attendee of industry trade shows and conferences, Mike is a strong proponent of regulated markets and responsible gambling policies.