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Malta E-Gaming Applications Surge On UK Clampdown

by Robert Lee,, London

24 August 2007

It has emerged that Malta is to benefit from tough new e-gaming regulations due to be introduced in the UK next month, as internet gaming companies rush to register in suitably-regulated jurisdictions.

According to a report in the Times of Malta, the island is attracting interest from a number of big players in the global internet gaming industry, including Intercasino, William Hill, Littlewoods, Playboy Casino and Virgin Games.

A letter of intent has been issued to 76 companies, and 36 applications to operate in Malta are still pending, the news service reported. This is in addition to the 84 e-gaming companies already licenced to operate from Malta.

The rush of applications from e-gaming firms to register in Malta has been prompted by the UK government's recent announcement that only companies based in territories on its so-called 'white list' will be able to market their services in the UK from September 1, when the Gambling Act 2005 comes into force. It has been estimated that this could effectively ban one thousand firms from advertising in the UK.

To gain a place on the UK white list, countries must meet stringent new standards which are designed to stop children gambling, protect vulnerable people, keep games fair and keep out crime. Countries in the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes Malta, are automatically accepted, and so far, the Isle of Man and Alderney are the only non-EEA territories to have made the white list.

The announcement has led to reports that many top e-gaming firms are considering switching their licences to an EEA territory. The UK's Independent newspaper reported recently that William Hill Casino is in the process of transferring its online business to an approved jurisdiction meeting the new UK standards, while other reports have suggested that Betfred has already applied for a licence to operate from Gibraltar.

But Malta, it seems, is clearly a favoured jurisdiction. Last month, the Lotteries and Gaming Authority issued a statement informing all potential remote gaming licensees that due to an unexpected increase in the number of applications received for new licences, the Authority wass not in a position to guarantee the processing of new applications within the normal time-frames. Applications received after the 9th of July, 2007 may not be dealt with until October, the Authority has warned.

The influx of e-gaming companies will also benefit the government, which stands to raise substantial revenue in taxation and license fees, Mario Galea, chief executive of the Lotteries Gaming Authority, told the Times. However, he added that the real benefits won't be felt in Malta until these firms actually transfer their physical operations to the island.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series examining offshore e-commerce and online gaming is available in the Lowtax Library at and a description of the report can be seen at

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