The ‘Brexit D-day’ is around the corner – 31st October 2019, and the future of the UK gambling industry is still unknown to many. The online gambling industry contributes to a large part of Europe’s annual revenue. It is estimated that around half of the adult population in Europe engage in real money gambling.
However, the move by the UK to exit the European Union may have severe implications on the booming gambling sector. Even though many people believe that Brexit may not have an impact on the operators licensed by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), including the ones that are based outside, the border control laws may affect them.
Will Gibraltar Lose European Gamblers?
Gibraltar is one of the gambling territories that may be hit hard by Brexit. This small peninsula, with a population of around 30,000 people, is a British Overseas Territory, although Spain lays claim to its sovereignty. Gibraltar may lose about 60% of the gambling staff who commute from Spain daily.
Many gambling operators including Gibraltar casinos accepting UK players are based in the territory because of the low tax on gross profit. But if it comes to the worst-case scenario, Spain based workers may not be able to work freely.
This may lead to many gambling companies relocating to Gibraltar in order to continue offering services in Europe. This will significantly affect the economy of this country. According to a recent poll, 98% of Gibraltar based players voted to stay in the UK territories, as well as remain in the European Union. The future of Gibraltar’s gambling industry highly depends on how the decision of the Spanish Government as of November 1st.
Problems with Licensing in EU
The UK Gambling Commission has some of the strictest laws when it comes to the terms of fair gaming and non UK regulated gambling sites inside and outside the United Kingdom. Going by the things, these rules are expected to get more stringent in the near future. Contrary to many industries, there is no central rule that oversees gambling in Europe.
As such, each member state is responsible for establishing laws that will suit its market. The amendment of the UK Gambling Act of 2014 ensures that all gambling activities, including sports betting in the UK, must be regulated by the UKGC. Brexit exit may not affect the licensing sector as such because of fear of losing the revenue.
It has already been clarified that the current UK laws pertaining to online gambling and licensing will remain valid after October 31st, 2019.
Movement to Malta
Several casinos and sportsbooks operators have started to relocate to Malta before the Brexit deadline. Malta has been a territory of the United Kingdom for more than 150 years, and it is the ideal gateway most operators who still want to benefit from the UK Gambling laws. The official language in the country is English, making it one of the ready markets to join.
Besides, Malta has built a good reputation in the iGaming industry, so it is likely to attract new operators to establish their bases there. Also, it will become the single biggest gambling destination in the European Union should Brexit be implemented.
Bet365 is one of the first gambling platforms that has come to show how it will be affected by the new laws. Their workforce will be reduced from around 500 to 100 employees. Although they have been in discussions with the government of Gibraltar, plans are underway to move to Malta. However, they have promised to retain their license from Gibraltar as well as to maintain 100 people to work in their offices.
The parent company of Coral and Ladbrokes gambling sites – GVC Holdings – have also stated that part of their online business will be registered under the Maltese gambling laws but will maintain their headquarters in Gibraltar.