Gibraltar Online Gambling Hub At Risk From Brexit?

Gibraltar Online Gambling Hub At Risk From Brexit? ( Click to Enlarge )

The UK is one of the most lucrative online gambling markets in the world, with industry estimates indicating that online gamblers in the UK spend upwards of £3.6 billion annually. Online gambling companies have long exploited the EU’s open market policy to invest in the UK while basing their operations in tax havens.

However, with the protracted Brexit negotiations continuing to dominate national news, we explore some of the implications of the divorce on the gambling industry.

Gibraltar Is Highly Vulnerable

One region that will be adversely affected by Brexit is Gibraltar. Gibraltar is a popular haven for online gambling firms (The GBGA is a specific association for them all). It already hosts some of the biggest players in the industry. Some of the major betting firms in the UK such as Bet365 and William Hill are based in Gibraltar as the area boasts favourable regulations and tax regimes.

However, with the UK leaving the EU, it is likely that some of the gambling firms operating from Gibraltar will contemplate moving their base to a territory that allows unfettered access to the EU. Already, Bet365 and 888 Casino have expressed their intention to relocate some operations to Malta to minimise disruption in the wake of Brexit. However, both firms indicated that they would continue some operations in Gibraltar.

What Does This Mean For Gibraltar?

The stakes are high for ‘Gib’ as the gambling industry generates over €40 billion annually and employs 10% of the country’s workforce. Consequently, even a partial relocation of operations is likely to lead to job losses. Gibraltar will leave the EU together with the UK to maintain unfettered access to the lucrative UK market.

However, the decision may be complicated by the fact that a large number of workers in the country come from Spain. Indeed, Spain has already contested Brexit on the grounds that its interests in Gibraltar will be jeopardised. In the meantime, Gibraltar remains sanguine about its position as a gambling hub, arguing that its regulations and workforce are unrivalled. It is going to be interesting to see how Gibraltar will adjust to Brexit.