Skill Games – Fantasy Sports in focus

In December 2015, the Malta Gaming Authority (the ‘Authority’) published its Position Paper on Digital Games of Skill with Prize following a public consultation.

The Authority stated that in view of the element of skill and knowledge involved in fantasy sports, such an activity should be differentiated from games of chance in terms of licensing and regulation. This relates specifically to fantasy sports where players choose virtual representations of real-life athletes, where the value and points attributed to an athlete reflect the athletes’ performance in actual sporting events, and where the outcome is determined predominantly by skill and knowledge rather than by chance. The Authority also took the position that such games still warrant regulatory intervention which is appropriate and proportionate to address the level of risk presented to the consumer.

The Maltese Government is committed to introduce legislation to regulate certain skill games which may present increased risks to the consumer. In this regard, the proposed Skill Games Regulations have been notified to the European Commission as part of the process for the Authority to roll out its licensing framework to regulate such skill-based games, including fantasy sports.

In the interim, the Minister for Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy, the Hon. Dr Emmanuel Mallia, has, on advice of the Authority, published the attached Legal Notice 271 of 2016, entitled the Fantasy Sports (Exemption) Regulations (S.L. 438.10), exempting fantasy sports from the requirement of a gambling licence issued in terms of the Lotteries and Other Games Act (Chapter 438 of the Laws of Malta) or the Remote Gaming Regulations (S.L. 438.04).

In effect, during this temporary period and until the proposed regulatory framework for skill games is put into force, the Authority shall be open to receiving interests via ad hoc notifications, in order to closely monitor these operations and evaluate potential risks to the consumer.

Entities offering fantasy sports may voluntarily notify their operations to the Authority via the form provided through the following link, and subject to meeting certain general conditions applicable under general law, the operator will be formally recognised by the Authority.

Interested operators are kindly invited to send any queries to [email protected] so that they can be guided accordingly.

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