Malta makes a stand for the online gambling industry, whose revenue is 11% of the country’s GDP. Such a need for a defense has arisen in connection with the amendment of the Convention by the Council of Europe against manipulations in the field of sports competitions. According to the Convention, “illegal sports betting is defined as any activity manifestation in the sports and gambling industry, as well as services of operators that do not belong to the jurisdiction of the country where the consumer lives.”
Joseph Cuschieri, the Executive Chairman of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), said that a new definition of the illegal sports betting concept could have a dire impact on the gaming industry in Malta. He explains, “The new definition will outlaw operators offering MGA license services in European countries.” Thus, the Convention puts the online gaming industry in Malta under attack because most Maltese companies receive income from foreign players who cannot play in a casino en ligne Canada, for example.
Cuschieri adds, “Since 2008, several European countries have abandoned online gambling services provided by other EU countries and have issued their own national licenses that operate only in their territories. If the EU countries ratify the Council of Europe Convention, the provision of interstate online gambling services will cease completely. Therefore, despite the fact that the main purpose of the Convention on the Prevention of Contractual Matches is commendable, Malta will not support the new law. Unfortunately, all of Malta’s proposals for amendments to the Convention have not been taken into account. 11% of the country’s GDP is the income from the gaming industry, which employs 8,000 people. Thanks to this sector of the country economy, the state treasury has replenished €700 million in 2016.”
Although most states supported the new version of the Convention, consent is required for all EU members to adopt it. If the Convention is ratified with new amendments, this will seriously harm the Maltese online sports betting sector since bets made through Maltese operators outside of Malta will be automatically recognized as illegal in the country of the consumer. A large number of companies engaged in online gambling are registered and operate in Malta. But a significant part of their client base is players from other EU countries, who make bets on sporting events outside of Malta. Thus, the MGA statements confirm that the state supports the idea of the Convention, but a new definition of illegal sports betting can destroy a huge part of the country’s online gaming industry.
As early as 2014, Malta made several proposals regarding the definition of illegal rates, but it did not reach a compromise. Therefore, during the Council of Europe’s meeting, Malta voted against the adoption of the Convention. A member of the European Parliament Silvia Costa said,”We deeply regret that the adoption of the Convention did not take place, despite the support of most states. The signing of the document is impeded by only one country (Malta). It is necessary to think about further actions so as to finally move from the dead point.” The European People’s Party (EPP) also criticized Malta’s position, “Most countries are ready for ratification, but only one country is against it,” Bogdan Venta, a member of the EPP, said.