The Fantasy Sports (Exemption) Regulations
In August 2016, Malta enacted the Fantasy Sports (Exemption) Regulations (Subsidiary Legislation 438.10 of the Laws of Malta), effectively exempting daily fantasy sports operators from the requirement of obtaining a gambling licence from the Malta Gaming Authority (the “MGA”) in terms of the Lotteries and Other Games Act (Chapter 438 of the Laws of Malta) or the Remote Gaming Regulations (Subsidiary Legislation 438.04 of the Laws of Malta).
The initiative constitutes part of the ongoing overhaul of the Maltese gaming law framework, which was kick-started by the MGA in 2014 with the aim of ‘future-proofing’ all gaming sectors.
What is a Fantasy Sports Game?
The Fantasy Sports (Exemption) Regulations define a fantasy sports game as:
“[…] a contest played for money or money’s worth whereby the winning outcome is determined predominantly through the skill or knowledge of the player, 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 occurrence of one or multiple events […]”
The Exemption: a Temporary Measure
As had been indicated by the MGA in its Position Paper on Digital Games of Skill with Prize, published in December 2015, daily fantasy sports are – in view of the predominant element of skill involved – to be distinguished from games of chance. The MGA has also taken the position, however, that daily fantasy sports still warrant regulatory intervention that is appropriate and proportionate to counter the level of risk posed to players.
To this end, the Maltese government has notified the European Commission of a set of proposed skill games regulations (the “Proposed Regulations”), which, it is expected, will create a licensing framework for skill-based games played for a prize of money or money’s worth – inclusive of daily fantasy sports. The fantasy sports exemption introduced in August of this year is therefore projected to constitute an interim arrangement until the Proposed Regulations are adopted locally.
During this temporary period, fantasy sports operators offering daily fantasy sports games may voluntarily notify their operations to the MGA via a form available on its website in order to obtain formal recognition from the Maltese gaming regulator. The MGA has also invited any interested persons to get in touch by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fantasy Sports (Exemption) Regulations, together with the notification form for fantasy sports operators, may be accessed on the MGA website at http://www.mga.org.mt/skill-games-fantasy-sports-focus/.