On-board casinos can now operate between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m, in return for a license fee per ship payable to the government. The fee is €500 for cruise liners carrying less than 1,500 passengers and €1,000 for cruise ships carrying more than the above-mentioned amount. As things stood, cruise liners could not operate their casinos. But now, through a subsidiary legislation, cruise liners will be allowed to open during the above-mentioned specific time-window.
Parliamentary Secretary Jose Herrera said that the new initiative is a win-win for all those involved: the cruise liner industry because it will help boost cruise liner presence in Malta, for the country since cruise liners will be asked to pay a fee for its casino operations and boost tourism, and last but not least for Gozo, since it will boost tourism there.
As for Gozo, he said that cruise liners which berth in Gozo will be excluded from paying this fee to incentivise cruise ships to visit Gozo, which in turn will lead to more cruise liner tourists visiting our sister island.
Dr Herrera noted that the new rules – which are simple but have a lot of thought behind them – will see cruise liners spending at least an extra night in Malta since as things stood before, cruise liners would spend that extra night elsewhere so as to operate their casinos.
Lotteries and Gaming Authority executive chairman Joseph Cuschieri said that this measure will not affect the casinos in Malta since on-board casinos will be open only for passengers of the ship itself.
When passengers onboard the ship would have opted to visit a casino in Malta before the restriction was lifted. He said that the effects would be minimal however did say that the effects would have to be studied in the long-term.
At this point, the CEO of the Valletta Cruise Port Steven Xuereb explained that “we are focusing on 2017 cruise ship bookings since 2016 bookings are now closed, therefore the effects of these new rules will only start to be witnessed in two years’ time”.