Battle of Malta Growing Part of Maltese Economy, National GDP


What started out as just a "crazy idea" has turned into one of the biggest standalone poker tournaments in Europe.

Now going into its fourth year the PokerListings Battle of Malta has also established itself as a valuable asset to Malta’s economy.

Last Friday BOM organizers, Maltese Tourism representatives and a cross-section of poker industry workers gathered in the conference center in the Hilton Hotel in St. Julian’s for a press conference.

It was hosted by Ivonne Montealegre, BOM Tournament Director, Martin Carlesund, CEO of Highlight Media Group Ltd, Paul Bugeja, COO of the Malta Tourism Authority and Eros Ganzina, General Manager of the Portomaso Casino.

Introducing some of the new additions for BOM 2015 they also recounted the astonishing development of the Battle of Malta from just another poker tournament to an event so big it has an effect on Malta’s national economic growth.

Battle of Malta
With 349 players BOM 1 showed promise.

A "Crazy Idea"

In 2012, when Montealegre approached PokerListings with the idea to create a new poker event, it was, in her words, "just a crazy idea.

"But within three years it has turned into one of the largest poker tournaments in Europe and beyond.”

“We were very happy to see 349 players that year but in 2014 that number had grown to an amazing 1,447. People are coming to Malta to play from all over Europe, from the Americas, and even as far as Australia.”

The initial (and still) ultimate goal of the BOM, added Carlesund, “was to bring back something that was lost from poker – fun.”

“We are now looking at 2,000 players for 2015, so it seems like we succeeded in doing so. It’s a fantastic development, and we are proud to be in the industry.”

Put Malta on the Map

An emerging poker and gaming industry in Malta has started to have a significant effect on the economy of Malta.

On the map as poker destination.

Paul Bugeja, COO of the Malta Tourism Authority, said it accounts “for 12% of the GDP and growing. It is second only to tourism.”

The MTA is running an initiative to extend the tourism season in Malta beyond the summer months and with the BOM taking place in November “it has really put Malta on the map," he says.

“More than 30 international journalists have covered the Battle of Malta and it has become a fixed component of the initiative above.”

Today you can find information about the Battle of Malta not only on poker websites but also on plenty of other media venues from promotional sites like to public review websites like

Now Playing in the Champions League

Ganzina, the General Manager of the Portomaso Casino, was one of the many people who initially doubted the chances of success.

Siege of Malta trophy
Growing force every year.

“When I was first contacted by Mrs. Montealegre," he said, “I wasn’t convinced of the project. But when I heard the next day they had booked 300 nights at the Hilton Hotel I knew they were serious.”

“This past year the Battle of Malta won the European Poker Award for Best Tournament Under $2,000 buy-in, which really put us in the spotlight. We’re now playing in the Champions League.”

The success of the Battle of Malta is extraordinary. From the first to the second edition the main event field grew by 154% from 349 to 888 players. The next year saw growth of 64% to 1,447 players. This year the target number is 2,000 entries.

“To reach another 30% more players is not a joke," said Gazina in his last statement. “But I’m optimistic that we’re going to have a bigger festival every year.”

The next Battle of Malta will place from November 4-9 at the Portomaso Casino. The Hilton Hotel is already fully booked for the event but packages and single buy-ins are still widely available on our Battle of Malta page.

Find out more about online qualifiers, satellites and side events there as well.

Battle of Malta Quick Stats

  • Created by PokerListings, one of the largest online poker affiliate companies, founded in 2003.
  • Inaugural event took place in 2012. Since then the number of players has risen from 349 to 1,447.
  • In 2014 the Battle of Malta became the largest standalone poker tournament in Europe.
  • The first edition had a guaranteed prize pool of €150,000. In 2015, the event has a guarantee of €500,000.
  • In 2015 the Battle of Malta was awarded the prize for “best tournament in Europe under $2000 buy-in” at the European Poker Awards.
  • The buy-in for the Battle of Malta is €550. Last year, the winner Antoan Katsarov cashed for €122,750

Watch the video from the press conference below:

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