Some people have this strange idea that you can run an online company from anywhere, because that’s the point of being online, right? Those of us in the business know better. The internet may know no borders, but regulations, fiscal policies, power and net infrastructure, and labour markets certainly do. These are things a sensible online business owner takes account of when it choosing a home for his or her company.
If you’ll excuse the obvious sports pun, Malta has stepped up into the big leagues this year. Having been an increasingly popular choice for remote gaming businesses for several years, it has nevertheless struggled to shake off the ‘island’ image when going toe to toe with major tech hubs like London, Berlin, and San Francisco. This year, however, in a series of intelligent and considered steps they have unveiled their equivalent of signing that star player: their forthcoming ‘game of skill with prize’ regulations.
I won’t recount again how this has come about; simply suffice it to say the new regulations, expected in 2017, allow ‘skill game’ operators to be licensed – making banking and payment processing easier and improving player credibility – without being burdened by the much heavier regulations that come with obtaining a gambling licence, as you would be in many other jurisdictions such as the UK. Huge numbers of fantasy sports operators have practically fallen over each in a scramble to sign up to the new regime which, I would stress, isn’t actually in place yet.
There may still be some sat on the fence, however. Regulation is all well and good, perhaps, but is that enough reason alone to move an entire operation to a Mediterranean island? Well, no, there should be a lot of other things in place. So how does Malta measure up in these other key areas?
- Labour Market: The remote gaming boom has filled Malta with an influx of exactly the kind of specialists a fantasy sports operation needs to thrive, and as an EU/Schengen member it is relatively easy to recruit from the rest of Europe. It is no longer the low-wage jurisdiction it once was, but the talent is certainly there – it is a regional training centre for Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle, for example.
- Power and Data: Malta’s power grid is directly connected to Italy’s through an undersea cable, supplementing its domestic power production where necessary. Data and power costs are higher than in major cities but the infrastructure for both is reliable enough that major gaming operators rely on them for key elements of their global services.
- Tax Policy: Malta boasts an attractive tax regime. Although tax advice should always be taken, I can say with confidence that companies structuring their operations in Malta will usually have a significant advantage against those in most other European jurisdictions. Gaming companies even benefit from a reduced rate of income tax for employees.
- Other Benefits: Malta is English speaking and has a legal system drawn from its British heritage. Its licensing regime is well respected within the EU and globally and is efficient and inexpensive. There are a range of incentives aimed at facilitating foreign investment and it is in a useful place geographically, with good air links and the Central European Timezone (CET).
So overall, Malta is popular for good reason and it should come as no surprise that hundreds of operators have signed up to express an interest in being licensed under the new regime. If you are still sat on the fence, I would encourage you to get off the fence and find a licensing partner who can help you do a proper assessment of Malta as a home jurisdiction.
If you are interested in Malta as a home jurisdiction for a fantasy sports operation, I recommend downloading our whitepaper on the 10 steps to getting a game of skill licence in Malta.