Maltese iPoker Now Only 1% of Total iGaming RevenuesJanuary 29, 2016 11:44 am
The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has just released its latest half year results for the period running from January to June 2015, and while overall remote gaming taxes came in healthy at €14,068,462, the online poker vertical has continued to slide in importance and now represents just 1% of the country’s overall iGaming revenues.
The figures are of great importance as Malta handles more than 474 remote gambling licensees, making it the world’s biggest online gambling jurisdiction. Therefore, the Maltese figures are seen as a fair reflection on the position online poker now plays within the wider iGaming industry. Online poker’s diminishing slice of the pie is not just because the game has suffered a decline in popularity in recent years, however, but also because the surge in interest for casino and sports betting has made iPoker’s share of the market seem smaller by comparison.
Needless to say, the news does not bode well for the online poker industry, as gambling operators will now be more inclined to divert their resources to offering other gaming options, rather than be attracted by the squeezed profit margins offered by iPoker. In fact, while iPoker currently has a mere 1% share of the market, casino gaming, on the other hand, accounts for 50% of Maltese iGaming revenues, and sports betting another 34%.
According to the latest MGA interim performance report, the MGA even experienced an impressive 14.5% increase in licensees during the H1 period, indicating that the online gambling market is still buoyant and robust, even as online poker continues to shrink to microscopic proportions.
As more and more countries adopt tight regulatory controls and increase the tax burden on gaming operators, Malta has been seeking other options to help boost its revenues. One such possibility is that Malta may decide to accept the digital currency Bitcoin as an acceptable means of transaction by its licensees, although this has yet to be confirmed. The Isle of Man, a British Crown Dependency, has also been making significant strides in this area, with businesses accepting Bitcoin required to register with the Manx government, earning the jurisdiction the title of “Bitcoin Island”. As the Manx Department of Economic Development head, Brian Donegan, explained recently:
“We have an advantage here in that we can put the legislation in place and provide the rigorous oversight that is needed more rapidly than other jurisdictions. We move quickly because we can see the potential of what is out there. This technology is transformational and we want to be in the lead.”