Malta faces the European Union to defend its online gaming sector

The issue centres on a new definition of “illegal sports betting” being pushed by the Council of Europe.

Malta is standing its ground against the rest of the European Union to protect its coveted online gaming sector, which accounts for 11 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Malta.- Malta is keeping its stance to protect its coveted online gaming sector,  against the rest of the European Union. Online gaming accounts for 11 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The issue centres on a new definition of “illegal sports betting,” which is currently being pushed forward by the Council of Europe in its Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions. The definition reads: “‘Illegal sports 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.”

Joe Cuschieri, Malta Gaming Authority Executive Chairman, explained that the definition could have dire consequences for Malta’s remote gaming industry. “This definition will effectively render illegal all operators who offer their services via their Malta Gaming Authority license in other European states,” he said.

Therefore, the Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions, in its current form, would deal a heavy blow to Malta’s booming online gaming industry since the vast majority of Maltese-registered online gaming companies take bets from punters in a wide variety of countries.

“While in accordance with the jurisprudence which has developed in the EU since 2008, a number of EU member states are restricting the provision of online gaming services within the EU and imposing national licences to offer gambling services within their territories,” expressed Cuschieri. “If the EU were to ratify the Convention of the Council of Europe, such a definition will have automatic EU applicability which effectively gives the ‘stamp of approval’ to the restrictions imposed by EU member states on the provision of cross-border services.”

“This definition, taken with the enforcement measures which the Convention calls on the signatory states to take in respect of ‘illegal betting operators’, unfortunately prevents Malta from supporting the Convention, which, in general, has a very positive objective in line with its policy to force out match-fixing.Malta participated in negotiations and made various proposals for amendments to the Convention which unfortunately were ignored,” he added.