Malta Gaming Authority Exempts Daily Fantasy Sports From Its Gambling License

Joseph Cuschieri Malta Gaming Authority exempts fantasy sports from gambling license

According to a press release by Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) on August 10, 2016, the gambling regulatory body is exempting all fantasy sports operators from the requirements issued under their Lotteries and Other Games Act or the Remote Gaming Regulations. This means daily fantasy operators are free to operate their businesses within the jurisdiction of Malta as of now until a concrete framework for skilled games is established by the body.

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) companies that are operating or planning to operate in or from Malta only need to voluntarily inform MGA on their operations via this simple form, and as long that they are adhering to some general conditions applicable under their general law, the entities shall be formally recognized by the Authority.

This is an exceptional good news for the daily fantasy sports industry in Europe, especially when Fanduel had just recently entered the UK market to compete with DraftKings. In the Authority’s their legal notice (L.N. 271 of 2016), downloadable here, they define fantasy sports to be,

“a contest played for money or money’s worth whereby the winning outcome is determined predominantly through the skill or knowledge of the contestant, and where the results are determined by the accumulation of statistical results of the performance of a number of individuals in sporting events, but shall not include the forecast of the score, point spread or any other future occurrence of one or multiple events.”

Daily fantasy sports took the U.S by storm in 2010 when FanDuel launched the first ever daily fantasy sports site offering fantasy sports fans (only about 32 million of them in USA and Canada during that time) a chance to win big bucks by skillfully drafting their favorite sports players for the upcoming NFL, NBA or MLB games. This enormous new market paved the way to the establishment of DraftKings in 2012 and other DFS startups and until now it has been a fierce battle between these 2 daily fantasy giants that spent well over $100 million in ads in 2014. Today, these 2 companies are valued over $1 billion dollar each, both targeting a total market fan base of 57.4 million in North America (according to Fantasy Sports Trade Association 2015 stats). This market in the U.S had been previously rocked-hard by legislation issues surrounding its legality as a game of skill. However, majority of U.S states (including California and New York) have recently beginning to recognize this virtual sports game to be skill based rather than chance.

It is our hope that this positive initiative by a European gaming authority will resonate with the rest of EU gaming regulators to recognize fantasy sport (or rather daily fantasy sports) as a game of skill.

To view the entire press release, click here