International edition
June 20, 2021

The call expires on 1 July

Malta’s Government issues expression of interest for two casinos

(Malta).- Parliamentary secretary for competitiveness Edward Zammit Lewis launched last week the expression of interest for the concession of two casinos. Speaking during a press conference, Lewis explained that the government issued an international expression of interest for the concession of two casinos, one in Malta and one in Gozo.

T

he call expires on 1 July and the government will then decide whether to shortlist a number of interested applicants or issue a call for tender. There will be no appeal stage.

The Lotteries and Gaming Authority will also hold a consultation process between 10 and 21 June, in which it will receiving and replying to queries about the call, Xammit Lewis said.

Zammit Lewis said that in 2008 the casino industry contributed 10 million euros in taxes going up to 13.5 euros in 2012. He added that the call was open to all kinds of proposals, including stand alone casinos or casinos inside hotels or shopping malls.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced that Gozo will join Malta as a site for a fifth casino licence, but the feasibility of a new operation may be in question, going by observations from the directors of the Dragonara and Oracle casinos.

In Vittoriosa, where the licence for the Casinò di Venezia has been suspended after running into liquidity problems, a new operator is being sought to take over Vittoriosa Gaming Ltd's operation. It's bleak enough to suggest that the casino industry needs to be assessed, Tumas Gaming chief executive Yorgen Fenech had told MaltaToday.

"I don't think the presence of a casino in itself generates economic growth or activity. It serves to complement an already-thriving area, not actually create one," noted Fenech, whose casino licence is split over two sites, the Oracle in Qawra and the Portomaso casino in St Julian's.

"We have no objection to any possible expansion of the industry, but one needs to acutely analyse and monitor its state to ensure the sustainability of current operations, tax revenues and most of all jobs within the industry."

Gaming in Malta has always been a highly competitive industry in a small market. The last concession, a renewal of the 10-year licence for the Dragonara Casino, was hotly contested by Tumas Gaming and the successful bidder, Pinnacle Gaming Group. Pinnacle, owners of the Fairplay franchise, had seen their string of gaming parlours shut down in 2009 in a government crackdown over their lax rules of operation. Their shuttering shifted at least 30% of business back into casinos.

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