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The LGA, Key Official and Gaming Tax in Malta: Part 1

Malta has passed certain laws and some of them quite inadvertently make it more attractive for companies. The LGA requires that each gaming company must have employed and resident in Malta a key official. The intention is for this key official to be a director and a senior individual from the management team, who is the chosen delegate to liaise with the LGA. As the key official is resident in Malta, it is easier for the Maltese Authorities to find that person as they are resident in Malta. The key official is personally and legally liable for the operations of the company. Thus if the company transgress any corporate law, the key official is liable to be personally fined, have any property confiscated and in extreme cases, could even end up in prison. When a key official is resident in Malta, but the company does not have its operations in Malta, it is difficult if the not impossible for the key official to be fully aware of what is going on. When the company does not have its operations in Malta, the key official will have access to the company accounts and back office systems, thus a certain amount of monitoring is still possible, which is what the LGA requires. Also the key official is bound to monitor any legal cases that arise, pertaining to the company. If the company is a large one, it will not give due consideration to the key official, but the key official will have access to certain reports and also signs contracts on the company’s behalf. In some cases, the key official is the sole director as a judiciary representative.

The Maltese law specifies that a gaming company keeps the clients’ money separate from its own operational money.  The company is not allowed to touch the clients’ money, until it isactually placed in bets. This is to safeguard against clients ending without their ‘deposited’ money, should the company go bankrupt. Every month, the gaming companies have to submit a report to the LGA and show that enough money is held, to cover the players’ funds. The key official endorses the report to prove it is truthful.

In some cases the LGA is seen as acting inconsistently with different operators. There were large companies, who wanted to come to Malta. The found that there was no data centre in Malta that was big enough or up to the required specifications to hold their equipment. Thus these companies requested that they would be allowed to retain their equipment in another country. The LGA insisted that the companies place their equipment in Malta. On the other hand, there are other companies, who have been allowed to retain their equipment in other countries, and are still registered in Malta.

One of the main criticisms of the LGA is that it takes too long in order to process new licences. Although work has been done to improve the situation, the ideal has still not been achieved. Certain licences should be very straight forward, especially if the company already holds a similar licence, but it can take anything from three month to eighteen months for a new license to be issues. It is felt that the officials at the LGA have never been part of operations, and thus are not experienced in certain elements of the gaming industry. The procedures and policies that they request are based at licence level rather than at company level, which can create extra complications and time for reproduction of the same documentations for different licences.

Other participants are very happy with the LGA, and think that it is very efficient when compared with other Jurisdictions. They consider it to be very efficient in comparison with other Jurisdictions and that things get done comparatively quickly. The see the LGA as more experienced and has seen most of the problems that are encountered, before, and thus are very knowledgeable in how to handle the situation. The LGA is more knowledgeable and experienced and thus a great help to the companies operating in the industry. It is seen as less bureaucratic than other Jurisdiction. The majority of the operators are happy with the operations of the LGA and consider it as better than other regulators in other Jurisdictions.

Source: M. Azzopardi: A Study of Locality Choices by ICT and I-Gaming Companies in Malta, 2012.

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