Malta I-Gaming Specialist Talks The Numbers

KPMG expert outlines the importance of the industry to the continued success of the Malta economy

In an interview with the Times of Malta over the weekend, KPMG senior manager and i-gaming expert Russell Mifsud illustrated how important the industry is to the local economy, pointing out that on the latest figures available:

* Malta has flourished for the past 13 years following the introduction of its licensing and regulatory model for online gambling;

* It is now an acknowledged European hub for online gambling operators;

* The industry contributes more than 11 percent of Malta GDP;

* Government has made a strong commitment to the sector;

* Employment in the i-gaming space on the island has grown 31 percent (2016 numbers). The current workforce on the island is around 9,000;

* Annual GGR in the sector is expected to reach Euro 24.9 billion by 2020;

* Malta hosts approximately 270 gaming operators, including the likes of Kindred, Betsson, Tipico, Paddypower Betfair and Mr Green;

* MGA reports indicate that the number of customer accounts held by remote gaming operators licensed in Malta is growing quickly, as is the number of employees working within the industry.

* Growth within key markets for remote gaming operators augurs well for the future of this industry, and healthy economic growth of between 1.7 and 1.9 percent (European Commission Spring 2017 Forecast) is forecasted for the European Union and Eurozone over the next two years;

* Rapid growth has brought with it the requirement for more professionals in the sector such as accountants and specialised lawyers, but in particular software programmers and developers. The current number of developers, in spite of the increased output from local education and training bodies, is insufficient to meet i-gaming industry demand. Consequently, salaries in the sector are generous;

* As a result of this shortage, online gambling operators tend to dilute or outsource part of their development commitments to companies in Romania, Poland, Latvia and Ukraine. Games and software developers tend to shy away from Malta, concerned that by setting up local offices they will have staff poached by i-gaming operators;

* Government is aware of the high demand for skills and is working with both public and private organisations to address the problem;

* The industry is cautiously testing the water with the growing cyber currency phenomenon, especially blockchain technology which offers the potential to strengthen the audit trail for data, enhance regulatory compliance, and open the door for new forms of innovative businesses and employment opportunities;

* In recent years, the economy in Malta has pivoted towards digital strategies, profoundly affecting the landscape and up-skilling the economy in areas such as programming, business intelligence, data analytics, digital marketing and design;

* The local climate, central location, wide use of the English language and rich history and culture make the island a desirable place to live and work;

* Support for Malta’s start-up community is growing at an encouraging pace. Over recent years, Malta has taken many positive steps towards creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem, whereby start-ups can thrive and team up with investors and venture capitalists;

* The Silicon Valletta initiative, a private organisation founded last year to bring together the most influential CEOs in the Maltese digital ecosystem, is flourishing, with strategic goals that include raising awareness of the digital sector, connecting Malta’s emerging start-up scene with the government and investment sectors, and bringing the CEOs of Maltese-based digital businesses together.