Malta Looking to Add New Casinos
The Maltese government is expressing interest in placing a new casino in both Gozo and Malta in the near future. Edward Zammit Lewis, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Economic Growth, said the government would like to gather some input from potential casino investors on how the projects could also feature things such as shopping malls and hotels. Zammit Lewis said Malta has hosted the gaming industry since 1964 and it contributed taxes totaling €10 million in 2008 and in 2012 that number reached €13.5.
The call from the government will close on July 1 and there won’t be any opportunity for appeals. At that time, the government will issue a call for tender or create a shortlist of applicants who are interested. Anybody who has questions regarding the project can direct them to the Lotteries and Gaming Authority from June 10 to June 21. Zammit Lewis said he’s talked with the public sector already and is confident there will be interest shown. He added that the license for Casino di Venezia is still under suspension and the government is still evaluating it.
That casinos’ license was put on hold because it experienced problems with liquidity and the government is currently looking for somebody to take over the gaming operation in Vittoriosa. Zammit Lewis said he’d like to hear new proposals that include standalone casinos as well as those that could be located inside of shopping malls and hotels. Joseph Muscat, the prime minister of Malta, stated earlier in the year that Gozo will be eligible for a casino license, but wasn’t sure how feasible a casino would be there.
Some comments from the public has been questioning if a casino on the small island of Gozo will ever work, and other things such as why Maltese citizens have to be 25 to enter a land casino while the age limit for foreigners are still 18.
“Casinos will not create a thriving region on its own”
Yorgen Fenech, the chief executive of Tumas Gaming, said he doesn’t believe casinos actually generate any economic activity or growth. He feels a casino is an ideal way to complement an area that’s already doing well, but doesn’t think a casino can create a thriving region. Fenech currently operates the Oracle casino in Qawra as well as St. Julian’s Portomaso Casino.
Fenech stated that he doesn’t have any objections to expanding the gaming industry in Malta, which is also still the major EU country holding licenses for online casino and gaming operations. Fenech feels the situation should be carefully monitored and analyzed by the government though, to make sure the current casinos can survive and no jobs will be lost, as reported to MaltaToday. Since Malta is such a small market, the competition in the casino industry is quite competitive.
When the Draganora Casino (the image) had its license renewed for 10 years it caused a controversy as Tumas Gaming contested it along with the Pinnacle Gaming Group, which owns the Fairplay franchise. Several of the company’s gaming sites were closed down by the government back in 2009 for being too lax in their operations. When those gaming parlours were shut down the local casinos saw business increase by approximately 30 per cent.