As at 1st August 2016, the offering of ‘fantasy sports games’ by Malta companies is considered to be exempt from the licensing requirements set out in the Remote Gaming Regulations. The exemption follows the enactment by Malta’s legislature of the Fantasy Sports (Exemption) Regulations (the ‘Regulations’) by means of Legal Notice 271 of 2016, which Regulations are rooted in the corresponding ‘Position Paper on Digital Games of Skill with Prize’ published by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) following a public consultation back in December, 2015.
companies wishing to offer fantasy sports games in or from Malta may now do so without the need of obtaining a licence under the Remote Gaming Regulations
Accordingly, companies wishing to offer fantasy sports games in or from Malta may now do so without the need of obtaining a Class 3 licence under the Remote Gaming Regulations as was the case prior to the introduction of the above-mentioned exemption.
The legal logic underlying the exemption is that, in view of the intrinsic elements of skill and knowledge in fantasy sports games, this activity should be differentiated from games of chance insofar as weight of licensing and regulation is concerned. Fantasy sports games presuppose circumstances where players choose virtual representations of real-life athletes and where the value attributed to any given athlete reflect that athlete’s actual performance in ‘real world’ sporting events, meaning that the outcome of the game is determined primarily by the skill and knowledge of the player rather than by chance.
In terms of the newly enacted Regulations, a fantasy sports game is one which:
- is played for money or money’s worth;
- has an outcome which is predominantly determined through the skill or knowledge of the player; and
- has a result which is determined by the accumulation of statistical results of the performance of a number of individuals in sporting events.
Malta’s legislature will be working on enacting a specific regulatory regime governing the provision of skill games
The licensable activity of ‘sports betting’ as defined in the Lotteries and Other Games Act is expressly excluded from the definition of ‘fantasy sports’ and from the corresponding exemption.
Moreover, it is understood that Malta’s legislature will be working on enacting a specific regulatory regime governing the provision of skill games, in line with the MGA’s position that, whilst games of skill should be differentiated from games of chance, such games still warrant a degree of regulatory intervention which is appropriate and proportionate to the level of risk to the player.
In the meantime, the MGA has confirmed that operators offering fantasy sports games may voluntarily notify the Authority thereof and may also opt to be formally recognised by the MGA upon compliance with certain conditions applicable under general law.