he Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) released Tuesday its Annual Report and Financial Statements for the financial year ending 31 December 2019, providing a summary of the performance of the Maltese gaming industry during 2019, an outlook for the medium-term future, and an overview of the work performed throughout the year by the MGA.
The gaming industry is estimated to have generated €1.6 billion in terms of gross value added in 2019. This represented a 9.6% growth over 2018 when the industry had already increased its gross value added by 11.9%. As a result of this momentum, over the past years, the gaming industry’s share in economic activity has increased to 13.3% by 2019. Excluding public administration, the gaming industry has consolidated its position as the third-largest sector in the economy, exceeding other sectors which were traditionally major economic pillars in terms of size of value added.
Furthermore, gaming contributes to the generation of value added through input-output linkages to other major sectors, including professional services, financial and ICT activities, hospitality and catering services, distributive trades, and real estate.
The gaming industry directly accounted for just above 7,400 jobs in FTE (Full-Time Equivalent) terms as at the end of 2019. When taking into account employment generated by activities in or associated with the gaming industry, the total employment in the gaming sector in Malta was estimated to be around 11,747 FTE jobs, which is approximately 4.8% of the total economy.
In 2019, the growth registered by the gaming industry activity in Malta remained significant, both in terms of performance in earlier years as well as in the context of the development of gaming activity globally. During 2019, companies based in Malta consolidated their operations towards robust service delivery, quality, and consumer satisfaction, driven by regulatory requirements. Business, in general, also sought to acquire professional skills to enhance marketing activities.
As for MGA’s activities, the regulator cancelled 14 licences and suspended 11. Also, it issued 20 warnings, 89 Notices of Breach and 23 administrative fines imposed on operators following various regulatory breaches; 89 applications for a gaming licence were received in 2019; 44 applications were either rejected or withdrawn and 53 licences were issued during the period under review, including licences the application for which had been received during the previous year; 15 individuals and companies were deemed not to be up to the MGA’s probity standards by the Fit & Proper Committee, mainly on the basis of mitigating the risks of money laundering or funding of terrorism; 69 international cooperation requests were sent by the MGA in 2019, predominantly as part of the criminal probity assessments, with the MGA receiving 58 international co-operation requests; 1,300 criminal probity screening assessments were carried out in 2019.
As at the end of December 2019, the number of companies licensed by the MGA, including both online and land-based entities, stood at 294.
In publishing this report, Heathcliff Farrugia, Chief Executive Officer of the Malta Gaming Authority, stated: “Overall, 2019 was a very challenging but at the same time rewarding year for the MGA. The increased focus on compliance and enforcement which was prevalent throughout the year has yielded tangible results for the Authority.”
“This focus led to internal restructuring for the better achievement of the MGA’s objectives, and was also pivotal in the Authority’s drive towards the setting up of the Sports Integrity Unit, tasked with increasing the commitment towards the fight against the manipulation of sports competitions,” MGA CEO added. “In its first months, this unit has already signed important collaboration agreements with international sport bodies in order to tackle betting-related corruption and ensure the integrity of sports. Such collaboration, both at a local and international level was high on the agenda in 2019, and will continue being crucial in 2020, as a key determining factor in the ongoing fight against crime, corruption and money laundering.”