As a broad gathering of islands situated in a strategic location linking the North African shore and Sicily, Malta is a phenomenal country which showcases a wide range of French, Roman, British, and Moor momentous sites, the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum subsurface complex of 4000 BC, the Blue Hole, Golden Bay, high rococo St John’s Co-Cathedral locales, the medieval stronghold city of Valletta, Dwejra Bay, the nightly city of Malta which boasts a number of world-class nightclubs, Mellieha Bay, the Inland Sea, Caravaggio works of art, the walled chivalric city of Mdina, Paradise Bay, natural waterfront formations, dive locales, the Blue Lagoon, the tiny snorkelling city of Comino, numerous megalithic houses of worship, and earthworks. And although there is an unimpressive number of facilities in the country, Malta is an authority in the world of gambling today.
History of Casinos in Malta
Ic-Cippitatu was the first game of chance to ever appear in Malta. This four-sides Teetotum was as popular as poker is today, mostly during outdoor activities. (For example, a Maltese figolla awaited the winner during Resurrection Sunday.) While the game enjoyed its popular stay, the lottery found its way into the country around 17th century like most European countries.
But before the lottery, there have been series of bareback horseraces in Malta in the 15th century, which took place during cultural celebrations like il-Festa tal-Imnarja (the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul). Precisely in 1869, the country’s very first legal horseracing events took place on April 12th and 13th while the country was under British rule.
The lottery became popular but generally unregulated until 1922 when the Public Lotto Act (or Public Lotto Ordinance) was introduced and passed. Sharply on October 31st, 1922, the Lotto Regulations became effective and defined Maltese lotto very identical to Italian lotto. The Maltese lotto was a nationwide pastime at the time and even during both World Wars.
After World War I came to an end, the government established the Public Lotto Department with Maltese entrepreneur John Mifsud as the pioneering director. The director created the Maltese National Lottery in 1934 – a national administrative monopoly. In a matter of months, the Maltese National Lottery became popular both within and outside the Maltese regions. As a result, the country could raise funds to develop many of its sectors. The lottery activities were entirely broadcasted live on radio and winners of the draws were declared publicly.
Further, without any law concerning casino gambling in Malta at the time, the Dragonara Point (which was constructed in the early 19th century as the renowned palace of Marquis Scicluna) opened Dragonara Casino on July 15th, 1964 as the first and oldest casino in Malta today. Dragonara Casino Limited bought the casino in 2010 and has reportedly spent more than €15 million on it.
In 2001, the Lotteries and Gaming Authority was established and the Maltese Ministry of Economic Affairs has since been accountable for its operations. From 1922 to today, the Public Lotto Act has been modified a number of times and makes all forms of gambling, gaming, and games legal in Malta.
Therefore, the Lotteries and Gaming Authority regulated more than just the Maltese National Lottery; the regulatory body regulates casinos, amusement machines, bingo halls, gaming arcades, remote gaming, etc. Particularly, remote gaming operators began receiving licenses in 2000, which makes Malta the first country in Europe to license online gambling operators.
In June 2012, Maltco Lotteries Limited (created in February 2004 and owned by specific Maltese entrepreneurs and Intralot S.A. shareholders) received a 10-year license to operate the Maltese National Lottery after winning a bid against another gambling company in October 2011. Similarly, in January 2015, the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) witnessed a complete rebranding and became the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). Everything from the logo to the website was changed but the regulatory authority was (and is) still intact.
The rebranding was in response to the many controversies about the LGA’s incompetency towards problem gambling and proper gaming regulations. Fortunately, the MGA has regained the trust of many today and, as a result, remote gaming (or online gambling) is widely popular in Malta with many big remote gaming operators licensed and regulated in Malta according to Maltese laws, mainly because of the country’s generous tax rates.
The MGA oversees all forms of gambling in Malta both online and in land-based facilities. As well, problem gambling and responsible gambling are two of the regulator’s most prioritized concerns. Today, the 2001 Lotteries and Other Games Act (the upgraded, revised version of the 1922 Public Lotto Act) provides the legal documentation for the lottery and other games, pari-mutuel betting, taxation, and other gambling-related issues.
The Act gives out licenses for four distinct online gambling operation classes: one for online lotteries, casino-related games, and games of skill, two for spread, pool and fixed odds betting, three for pari-mutuel betting and betting exchanges, and four for software providers.
Current Gambling Climate
Casino gambling and all other forms of gambling are limitlessly legal in Malta. The Malta Gaming Authority regulates all gambling operations both online and in land-based facilities. Presently, there are just five gambling facilities (four casinos and one racino) in all regions of Malta.
Despite the number being littler than expected, however, Maltese casinos are famous for their incredible atmosphere, many varieties of gaming machines and table games, other amazing amenities usually included in the establishment, and luxury.
Malta is an exceptional country with friendly natives, a remarkable history, and many tourist attractions – and gambling in Malta is just as exceptional. English and Maltese are the two official languages of the country, so foreigners would easily blend with the majority of the below-450,000 citizens. Gambling is also safe and religiously regulated in this part of Europe.
Casinos in Malta by Area
Casinos in Malta spread throughout three cities: one in Saint Paul’s Bay, three in St. Julian’s, and one in Marsa. St. Julian’s, which is the largest Maltese gambling city, features about 710 gaming machines and 57 table games. With more than 300 gaming machines and 14 table games, Dragonara Casino is the largest casino in Malta. The second largest is Casino Malta by Olympic Casino and features 285 gaming machines and 31 table games. Both are located in St. Julian’s.
Types of Casinos in Malta
First, Maltese casinos are one of the most luxurious and entertaining casinos in Europe. Each is either housed in a five or four-star hotel or remotely close to one. They usually have restaurants, brasseries, spas, and bars, and some offer services for sports and pari-mutuel betting (Dragonara Casino as a prime example). Also, there is a racetrack in Malta: Marsa Race Track.
Casinos in Malta feature a wide variety of slot machines namely progressive slots, video slots, 3D slots, classic slots, and pokies. In addition to slot machines, Maltese casinos usually offer table games such as blackjack, roulette, Punto Banco, Russian poker, Three Card Poker, American roulette, Open Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold’Em, Caribbean Stud poker, Super Texas Poker, and Thirty Forty.
Sports and pari-mutuel betting are popular throughout the country – especially horse racing, football (soccer), rugby, and snooker. There are many sportsbooks within the country and many others are available online.
Further, bingo (the Spanish version popularly known as tombola) and lotteries are very popular amongst the Maltese natives. There are five bingo halls (Fairplay Bingo and four different Bingo Royale locations) spread throughout the country and the Maltese National Lottery offers Super 5, Lotto, scratchcards, and Grand Lottery.
Online gambling is very active in the country with hundreds of gambling websites licensed and regulated in the country. According to Maltese law, it is also legal to participate in a form of gambling provided by an offshore gambling website licensed within the European Economic Area.
List of Casinos in Malta
Below is a list of all casinos currently operating in the regions of Malta.
Casino Malta by Olympic Casino
Marsa Race Track
Oracle Casino – New Dolmen Resort & Hotel
The Casino at Portomaso
Facts About Casinos in Malta
– Similar to most countries, the minimum gambling age in Malta is 18 years.
– Dragonara Casino is a segment of the Westin Dragonara Resorts Malta, one of the most popular resorts in Malta. In 2016, the casino upgraded most of its properties and is currently one of the best casinos in Europe.
– Calling +35620921000 will connect the caller with a correspondent who would offer free transport to the Dragonara Casino.
– The Casino at Portomaso hosts a No Limit Hold’Em Poker tournament every year.
– Aġenzija Sedqa is the national Maltese agency responsible for the education of problem gambling and responsible gambling to the people, and eradication of any worries concerning gambling. In the event of someone having a gambling problem, you can call 179 (their toll-free number) to report the issue.
– Illegal gambling is a serious problem in Malta. In fact, 85 gaming arcades were found by the Maltese Police Force in June 2010 to have been operating without a license. Initially, those gaming arcades were legally granted to operate for a handful of years. Luckily for them, the LGA (now MGA) did not pay attention to their rapid growth and ignorance of the limited grant. Therefore, they have been operating illegally – until 2010.
– While Dragonara Casino is the oldest casino in Malta, Casino Malta by Olympic Casino (which fully opened on February 12th, 2016) is the newest casino in Malta. Its owner, Olympic Entertainment Group, is the largest casino company in Central Europe with about 100 websites licensed in approximately 10 countries.
– As of 2004, Malta received more than 450 applications for a remote gambling license.
– An operator licensed in Malta can operate in the United Kingdom and most territories in Europe.
– Bitcoin gambling is illicit in Malta for the Malta Gaming Authority has clearly stated its disapproval of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency and similar virtual currencies. Actually, gambling websites licensed and regulated by the MGA cannot accept any virtual currency.
– The biggest poker tournament in Maltese history occurred in November 2016 during the 2016 Battle of Malta at The Casino at Portomaso with approximately €900,000 worth of cash prize and almost 2000 entries.
– The MGA proposed the Gambling Act in a white paper published on July 16th, 2017. The Act would review and revise all gambling laws of Malta. However, the Act is still nothing but a proposal in February 2018.
– Bet-at-home, Marathonbet, Betsson, Interwetten, and Mr. Green are all licensed in Malta. And there are about 286 gambling websites that allow Maltese players.
– Casino di Venezia Malta – a replica of Casinò di Venezia in Italy, the oldest casino in the world, owned and operated by Vittoriosa Gaming Ltd (VGL) – operated in Birgu, Malta since August 2001 until it was permanently closed in 2017 after a series of scandals, tax refusals, and violations of the Maltese law.
– Dragonara Casino welcomes about 1000 players per diem, which means almost 400,000 players are welcomed per annum.
– Dragonara Casino hosted the DeepStacks Tour and the World Poker Tour in 2015.