Minnows' Euro 2016 success brought Maltco plenty to smile about
Sports game revenue up by 25 per cent last year
Minnows Iceland and Wales brought smiles to the faces of football fans during the Euro 2016 finals but the month-long tournament also had Maltco Lotteries smiling.
The company saw revenue from sports games increase by 25 per cent to €12.4 million in the first six months as a result of the football finals held in France last June.
The figures emerged from the Malta Gaming Authority’s interim report for 2016, a copy of which was laid on the table of the House last week by Competitiveness Minister Manuel Mallia. He was responding to a parliamentary question by Nationalist MP Chris Said.
The report covering the period January to June 2016, showed that sport games represented a quarter of Maltco’s overall sales.
The bulk of the operator’s revenue – €33.9 million – came from draw-based games such as Super 5 and the Grand Lottery, which represented 72 per cent of turnover. Instant games made up the rest of Maltco’s revenues, contributing a lowly €762,223.
The report, which gives an overview of the gaming sector, shows that Maltco’s turnover in the first six months last year increased by 13 per cent over the same period in 2015 to reach €47 million.
Gaming taxes due to the government by Maltco for the period stood at €6.2 million. The company also passed on €290,294 in unclaimed funds to the Good Causes Fund administered by the Finance Ministry. The report confirmed the continued growth of the gaming industry in the first half of 2016 despite a downturn in global activity in 2015.
The sector, which also includes land-based gaming outlets like casinos and remote gaming operators, saw employment increase by a third. The industry provided an estimated 6,150 full-time equivalent jobs (an industry standard calculation that takes into account irregular working hours). The MGA said it only took note of jobs with firms licensed by it and excluded companies that may operate from the island but are licensed elsewhere.
The gaming industry’s gross value added to the economy stood at half-a-billion euros in June last year, contributing €28 million in taxes. The amount of tax was equivalent to 4.6 per cent of the government’s total indirect tax-take during the period.
The report noted that the positive results were registered despite a drop in the number of companies licensed by the MGA. Licenced operators stood at 257, down from 276 in the previous six months. The reduction was a result of more monitoring that led to the cancellation of licenses (see separate story) and business consolidation in the remote gaming segment.
Watchdog clamps down on online gaming abuse
The gaming watchdog stopped 16 online operators in the first half of last year in a move to curb abuse.
The number of cancelled licences in six months was higher than the number of cancellations for the whole of 2015 when 13 licences were withdrawn.
In its interim report for the first half of 2016, the Malta Gaming Authority said the cancellations were a result of regulatory breaches by the remote gaming operators.
An additional gaming licence was suspended by the MGA’s enforcement unit during the same period. Another 11 licences were withdrawn voluntarily by operators.
The authority said it issued 42 licences between January and June last year and received 61 new applications.
There were 250 licensed companies, representing a drop of 19 companies over the number registered in December 2015.
However, the authority said that apart “more effective enforcement” that ledto the cancellation of licences, the dropin companies was also the result of industry consolidation.
“Over the last year, consolidation in the industry was a common phenomenon, with a number of companies merging in order to be better equipped to face the new regulatory challenges in Europe,” the report said.
Remote gaming, a mainstay of the gaming industry, contributing €14 million in taxes and employed some 5,295 people.
The authority noted that 67 per cent of all employees in this sector were non-Maltese.
■ Casinos had 379,344 player visits, up four per cent
■ Texas Hold’em poker tables are most popular with casino-goers
■ Majority of casino visits (196,325) were by Maltese nationals
■ Male casino players outdid women by 60:40
■ A third of casino customer visits were aged 65 and over
■ Casinos contributed €6.6 million in taxes
■ Full-time equivalent employees at casinos stood at 638
■ There were 46 gaming parlours
■ Ħamrun, Paola and Valletta had highest concentration – four each
■ Gaming parlour visits increased by 42 per cent over June 2015.
■ The Gozo region saw a 122 per cent increase in visits
■ 76 per cent of visitors were Maltese nationals
■ Male visitors to gaming parlours outdid women by 66:34
■ Highest share players were aged 35-54 years
■ Gaming parlours contributed €760,216 in taxes
■ Full-time equivalent employees in gaming outlets stood at 110
■ There were 93,045 visits to commercial bingo outlets
■ 90 per cent of visitors were Maltese
■ 86 per cent of bingo players were women
■ 43 per cent of customers were aged 65 and over
■ Commercial bingo operators contributed €307,109 in taxes
■ The sector employed 42 people
*All figures are for the period Jan-Jun 2016