Malta Gaming Licence Compliant with EU Law

Dr Daniela Bartolo | Published on 16 Jan 2013

Malta I-Gaming Licence

Malta is among the few member states that have not received official warnings from the European Commission on national legislation regulating online gaming.

Affirming its position as a jurisdiction in line with European Union legislation, Malta has not received any official letters of formal notice sent by the European Commission to those member states deemed by the Commission not to be in line with European Union (EU) legislation.

Within the EU, each member state is responsible for the implementation of EU law. However, the European Commission may take action that it deems appropriate in response to either complaints made by individuals or indications of infringements that the Commission detects itself.

Updating of Gaming Legislations across Europe

The European Commission has sent the letter of formal notice to Germany as a result of the legislative developments in the past months in the field of gaming. This letter represents the pre-litigation stage where the Commission requests that a member state makes its submissions on an identified obstacle to the application of EU Law.

Five other member states, namely Finland, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden, are already at the second stage of the infringement proceedings. Thus, the next step would be the issuance of a reasoned opinion from the EU Commission which serves as a formal request to the member state to comply with EU law. Inaction after the reasoned open may lead to the institution of proceedings against the member state before the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

As the first EU member state that introduced the legislation on remote gaming, Malta is deemed as a model jurisdiction in terms of giving operators the possibility of operating an i-gaming business while giving players reassurance that an operator licensed by the Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority is running its operation in line with EU legislation.

Gaming legislation in the EU is not harmonised and thus, member states are free to legislate gaming on their own terms provided that it complies with the general overarching principles of EU law, including the principle of free movement of services. The CJEU, in fact, has long-confirmed that cross-border online gaming is within the scope of the fundamental freedoms.

Malta’s compliance to EU legislation is reflected in Malta’s burgeoning online gaming industry, which is the largest in the European Union. Malta gaming legislation has in fact been described as being comprehensive, robust and effective in controlling online gaming. The Malta gaming licence is based on the cardinal principles of the legality of gaming; player protection; protection of the vulnerable and minors; and fair gaming, thus striking a balance between the trends of the industry, the aspirations of the operators and the protection of the players.

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