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In the world of limited country’s internet gaming revenues, Malta online poker has transformed into the red-headed stepchild. Poker operations only account for one percent of the total revenue derived from online gaming, according to the Maltese regulator.

Malta being one of the world’s largest online gambling jurisdictions, this figure is quite unsettling. With about 474 licensees Malta holds the highest number of licensees in the entire global online gambling market, and so gives an accurate reflection on the market in general.

Of course, we’ve seen a continuing download revenue course since about 2011, but it’s not just that, the online poker vertical is below par. Besides this, sports and casino betting are rising and minimizing the poker success rates.

Since the real money is to be produced in other gaming segments, online poker offerings attract far less investing operators than before. In addition, profit margins are continuously squeezed by tightened taxation and regulatory controls.

Backed by a big-money ad campaign, Amaya who last year introduced PokerStars sports betting, is now ready to initiate, BetStars, as a new sports standalone betting brand. At least some segments of the online poker community have been criticizing and even been boycotting the site since its rebalancing of its rewards system favouring mostly recreational players.

Regulatory Threat

From the period January to June 2015, 34 percent of revenue was generated by sports betting, and even 50 percent by casino gaming, as stated by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) in its performance report.

The increasing regulation around the world may even cause an anxious feeling amongst the MGA itself. Let’s take for example operators who wish to engage with the British market, they must be licensed and regulated in the UK, and are introduced with a 15 percent duty on top. Earlier they were offered far more favourable tax rates, as they could target the highly lucrative UK market from Malta.


In 2016, Bitcoin might be recognized by MGA as an acceptable transaction currency. It has not being confirmed yet, but Malta is clearly exploring new options.

According to MGA, there was a raise of 14.5% in the number of licensees in the first half of 215, despite the competition.

This means the online gambling market is resilient.