The Malta Independent 23 July 2019, Tuesday

Battle of Malta significant part of Maltese national GDP

Tuesday, 20 October 2015, 14:31 Last update: about 5 years ago

What started out as just an idea has turned into one of the biggest poker tournaments worldwide. The “Battle of Malta” has also established itself as a valuable asset to Malta’s economy.

Friday, October 16, 2015. Organizers, representatives, and industry workers gathered at the conference center of the Hilton Hotel in St. Julian’s for the first “Battle of Malta” press conference.

It was hosted by Mrs Ivonne Montealegre – BOM Project Director, Mr Martin Carlesund – CEO of Highlight Media group Ltd, Mr Paul Bugeja –COO of the Malta Tourism Authority, and Mr Eros Ganzina –General Manager of the PortomasoCasino.

They were recounting 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.

A crazy idea

In 2012, when Poker Affiliate and Marketing Company PokerListings hired Mrs Montealegre to create a new poker event, “this was 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 1447.”

“People are coming to Malta to play from all over Europe, and even from the Americas and as far as Australia.”

Bringing back the fun

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

“We are now looking at 2000 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.”

An industry, that has had significant effect on the economy of Malta for a long time.

A part of Maltese economy

Mr 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 are 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”, added Mr Bugeja.

“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 the Battle of Malta not only on poker, but also on plenty of other websites, from promotional sites like to public review websites like

A Champions League event

Mr Eros Ganzina, General Manager of the Portomaso Casino, was one of the many people who initially doubted the chances of the Battle of Malta.

“When I was first contacted by Mrs Montealegre”, said Ganzina, “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 year, the Battle of Malta has won the European Poker Awards for best tournament in Europe under $2000 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 player field grew by 154% from 349 to 888 players.

The next year saw another growth by 64% to 1447 players. This year, the target number is 2000 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 is taking place from November 4-9 at the Portomaso Casino.

The Battle of Malta

-          Created by PokerListings, one of the largest Online Poker Affiliate Companies, founded in 2003.

-          The inaugural event took place in 2012. Since then, the number of players has risen from 349 to 1447.

-          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.

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