Nov 21 / 2018
Latest News / Editorial

The Gambling Industry Prepares for Brexit Britain

It’s one of the most talked about and contentious political issues that the UK has ever seen and while faint calls for a second referendum can still be heard, it now seems certain that the country is heading towards an irreversible Brexit. Many questions remain as to the nature of the final deal that has yet to get over the line but as far as Prime Minister Theresa May is concerned, there is no turning back.

Once Britain has left the EU, the questions will mount as to the effect that Brexit will have on many areas of industry and among those wondering about the future is the gambling sector. Changes to gaming tax laws in 2014 have already turned the UK into a problem area for overseas investors but will Brexit exacerbate those issues or will there actually be some benefits?

Defying the Odds

The good news is that while those tax changes in 2014 led to a number of overseas operators closing their doors to British players, the UK gambling industry is booming. Online revenues are up and new providers continue to set up a digital presence to claim their share of the profits.

A number of those operators have also committed their immediate future to the country by setting up European headquarters here so why is there a concern that Brexit will stop this growth in its tracks?

SiGMA iGaming The Gambling Industry Prepares for Brexit Britain
“Gaming tax laws in 2014 have already turned the UK into a problem area for overseas.”

What’s Next?

Any opinions as to what happens when Britain leaves the European Union are, to an extent, mere speculation but there is potential for punitive measures that will discourage gambling trade here. Firstly, there is the possibility that further tax measures will be introduced and that those who have stayed despite the 2014 changes will now find their positions to be untenable.

Furthermore, a no deal Brexit could deny British companies market access in the gaming sector and that would exclude UK operators from entering any bidding process. It’s hard to find any positives but the hope is that the industry is big enough, and therefore resilient enough to withstand an initial fallout from EU withdrawal.

Moving On

The question of local jobs would also come under the microscope post-Brexit but this may be just a minor concern. Very few operators have an HQ in the UK and as far as gaining access to those sites are concerned, as long as the company is happy to take on British players then it doesn’t matter where they are based.

There is, however, a concern over the future of Gibraltar where many operators are based. Spain is expected to pay very close attention to Britain’s plans in this respect with EU nationals potentially facing problems with crossing their border in order to work in Gibraltar.

Elsewhere in the world, there are fewer concerns: With Jackpot City now available in Malta along with a number of other high profile operators, rules and regulations regarding the EU will not be felt here. Gibraltar is part of the UK and that’s where the problem lies so we could perhaps expect to see an exodus of gambling companies away from there and into Maltese territory.

That would be another blow for the UK but as yet, the future is unwritten. We can continue to speculate on the British gambling industry once the withdrawal from the UK is complete but no-one can turn that speculation into facts just yet. There are, however, some potentially bleak situations that could arise in the months and years that follow and it’s fair to say that parts of the sector are approaching the future with some trepidation.

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