Malta is one of the world’s smallest countries, with a history that goes back to 5000 BC. In spite of having less than half a million people, this population is pretty densely packed, as Malta is only a little over a hundred square miles in size.
Malta might be small in terms of both size and population, but its gaming footprint is disproportionately large. Malta is actually a gambling hub of global proportions when it comes to gambling licensure, with over 500 gambling sites holding their license here.
So with so many gambling companies seeking to be licensed in Malta, it goes without saying that Malta is pretty gambling friendly, and it is this friendliness in fact that has attracted so many gambling companies to them.
So you can’t speak of gambling and Malta together without talking about the Malta Gaming Authority, even though this concerns international interests for the most part and has little to do with the Maltese, but that’s only because the focus of the Malta Gaming Authority is global in scope, and Malta represents such a tiny fraction of the population which concerns the gaming authorities in this country. (2)
Part of the appeal here is the very friendly taxation rates that Malta imposes upon its licensed online gambling operations, and money does talk, and speaks loud enough here to make Malta one of the largest online gambling jurisdictions in the world. Aside from that though, a Malta license is pretty well respected in the world of online gambling, and a lot of value in having a license in a certain country is the level of confidence that this inspires in players, and Malta does quite well in that regard.
Malta is a member of the EU and was actually the first EU member to license and regulate online gambling, and they’ve been very successful in doing so since. The new U.K online gambling regulations automatically whitelists any online site with a Malta license, to give you an idea of how well respected Malta is in this area.
A lot of this appeal is based upon the fact that Malta gambling licenses aren’t just handed out as a money grab, and there are standards here that online gambling companies are expected to comply with, and the standards are pretty high compared to some areas, who may pay less attention to the value of their licenses as far as perception is concerned.
Gambling In Malta
When looking at Malta’s role in the global gambling market, while this is primarily directed at players and sites outside Malta, we can’t forget that they regulate Maltese gambling as well, and the Maltese like to gamble as well.
There are three casinos in Malta, which certainly isn’t a bad count for a country of this small of a size, and they do offer a little live poker at least, at the Dragonara Casino, the country’s largest, although live poker isn’t particularly huge in Malta. (3)
Other than that, well there’s the whole world of online poker out there, and one of the cool things about living in a country that is so focused on the global market is that the people of Malta tend to get pretty forgotten in this, in other words not having any restrictions at all placed upon them as far as where they can play.
So this is a case where there is regulated online poker here but the goal isn’t to regulate and tax their own people, they are looking at a much bigger picture, they want to regulate and get income from licensing fees from some huge online gambling operations, and aren’t really interested in the very small population that lives in the country.
So players from Malta aren’t even restricted to playing at Maltese licensed sites, and at the same time they aren’t about to blacklist any sites either, and they are even in bed with a lot of these online sites so to speak, and with the ones they aren’t in bed with, well those are in a similar bed to theirs, licensed under a similar scheme as Malta offers, only licensed in a different jurisdiction.
What This Means To Online Poker Players in Malta
So this is as perfect a situation as you could ever wish for as an online poker player. In a lot of other countries, the battlefield involves the domestically licensed online poker sites or online gambling sites versus the internationally licensed ones. So the government fights to try to get players to play on their approved sites and fights against the foreign licensed sites, and even go as far as trying to block their players who live in their country from accessing them.
In Malta though, these foreign online poker sites are on the side of the government though, and in fact they are the ones that are providing the licenses to them, and even if they didn’t provide a license to a particular online poker site, well some country did, and the same principles of internet freedom that allow players from other countries to play at foreign based online poker sites apply in all cases, to all sites.
So this is absolutely beautiful, when your government is a world leader in promoting and profiting from the principle of internet gambling freedom, and is doing so much business with these international sites that they don’t even care about regulating your play. That ends up being left to the free market so to speak, and that’s exactly what happens playing online poker in Malta.
So while we have a lot of de facto internet freedom in all countries actually, where the government may want people to not play at certain sites but have very limited powers to act, the internet freedom here is real, and as real as it gets, and in fact it is countries like Malta that these other countries have such a problem with, and if your country is officially on the side of freedom here, then that’s a pretty nice spot to be in.
There is no reason at all to think this all will change anytime soon, maybe Malta one day comes up with a domestic regulatory scheme, to limit the selection of their own people, but this is not on the horizon at all and may never be.
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