The authors of a German study on money laundering around online gambling in the EU have evaluated around 100 Italian investigations into illegal gambling in connection with money laundering over the last 25 years. They conclude that Italian mafia organizations laundered billions in illegally generated assets via online gambling in Malta between 2015 and 2022. Of the €6.7 billion in total assets seized in investigations, €4 billion alone came from online gambling investigations related to Malta. Wirecard also features prominently in these investigations.
The study will be published this Monday by the Left Group in the European Parliament. In it, the authors provide suggestions for improvement: They call for the European Union to adopt tougher rules to prevent money laundering in online casinos.
EU Gambling Eldorado
Due to the low effective taxation of the legal form of a Malta Limited, the low tax rate on gambling and the low fees for gambling licenses, Malta has become the European Eldorado of online gambling since the approval of online gambling: It contributes 12% or €1.2 billion to the Maltese GDP. This share is close to that of the of the Maltese real estate industry. This means that the GDP share of gambling is eleven times higher than the EU average.
In view of this incredible volume of money laundering via online/offline gambling, the gambling market now plays a central role in the supervisory laws of the EU states for the gambling market to prevent money laundering. Regulatory Objective. The problem has apparently also been recognized by Malta. The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has reportedly declared money laundering prevention to be a regulatory priority.
In 2004, Malta was the first country within the EU to comprehensively liberalize its gambling market and to issue online casino licenses for the cross-border provision of services services. Today, the country is home to more than 300 such gambling providers are domiciled there. The Maltese budget receives €1.4 billion annually from the annual levies of the gambling companies alone, the study states.
The structures in Malta’s financial services industry are a cause for concern. From BaFin’s point of view, Malta is one of the financial centers that favor non-transparent transactions (“cross-border trade”). Compared with other EU countries, the Maltese financial services industry has atypical structures that are not related to the local real economy.