Malta’s fight against EU match-fixing treaty

Malta’s fight against EU match-fixing treaty

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Definition of illegal gambling has potential to harm Malta-based industry

Malta’s position as potentially the sole online gambling point of supply licensing regime left in the European Union once the UK leaves is under threat from moves to institute a definition of illegal betting which could be “extremely detrimental” to the gambling companies which operate from the island.

A match-fixing treaty currently being debated by the European Parliament contains wording regarding illegal betting that has the potential to floor the gambling sector in Malta, according to Emmanuel Mallia, the Maltese minister for competitiveness and the digital, maritime and services economy.

“As it stands, the definition of illegal gambling would be extremely detrimental to our industry, since it would require all iGaming operators in Malta to also be licensed in any country they accept bets from,” he told the Maltese parliament last week.

The Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions states that illegal betting means any sports-betting activity “whose type or operator is not allowed under the applicable law of the jurisdiction where the consumer is located”.

Such a definition would be a direct threat to the Maltese online gambling jurisdiction treatment of ‘grey’ market revenues from countries such as Sweden and Germany in the EU and other jurisdictions further afield.

Malta Gaming Authority executive chairman Joseph Cuschieri said the definition would deal a huge blow to the industry, which employs over 8,000 people on the island and accounts for 11% of the country’s gross domestic product.

“This definition will effectively render illegal all operators who offer their services via their Malta Gaming Authority licence in other European states,” Cuschieri added.

Malta is now effectively blocking the match-fixing treaty but as Paul Leyland, partner at Regulus Partners, said the island is now fighting on its own. “With Malta the only EU Member State with a fully POS gambling worldview, odds of 26/1 (ex UK) of being heard or having influence do not look good,” he said.

David Clifton, co-founder of the Clifton Davies consultancy, told he felt some sympathy with the quandary facing the island. “It was the first EU jurisdiction to regulate online gambling and has always played by the free movement rules within the EU Treaty,” he told

“It is ironic that whilst many believe politics to have played a major part in the legal approval of place of consumption regulation by a significant number of EU member states, Malta is now being accused of playing politics itself by opposing the definition of ‘illegal sports betting’ proposed by the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions.”

He added that it was “wholly unsurprising” that Malta is seeking to exercise its veto.

Nevertheless, Leyland pointed out that the tide of history of online gambling regulation was now against the country, despite the exit of the UK from Europe holding out the prospect of dragging Gibraltar with it and leaving Malta as the last point-of-supply-man standing. “The single market has been a key pillar of European- wide gambling growth for a generation, but the growing power and attractiveness of point of consumption regimes (to member states) is undermining this dynamic on many levels,” he concluded.

Totally Gaming says: This latest spat with Europe comes from an unexpected direction but has the potential to seriously harm Malta’s position as Europe’s soon-to-be-only online gambling point of supply jurisdiction. But as the analysts point out, its position was always going to be under threat as more countries turned to point of consumption regimes. Its major erstwhile rival Gibraltar might soon be edged out of the picture, but a far more formidable foe in the shape of the EU now looms.

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