The UK gambling industry is one of the best in the country. In fact, it is booming, but what will be the effect of the imminent Brexit? The gambling industry employs 125,000 in Britain and has a total revenue of £139bn.
So even if the industry is growing well, every operator is worried about how the UK is going to leave the European Union and the change of regulations.
Those who are getting worried they probably have a good reason as according to gambling lawyers, a no-deal or a hard Brexit could mean that operators that are based in the UK (which also include Gibraltar) will suddenly not have access to players in the European Union. This is because if Britain will leave without any agreement, it would fall back to the World Trade Organisation rules (WTO). In the worst-case scenario trade talks might even collapse entirely.
‘The issue of retreating to World Trade Organisation rules for gambling operators’ said Ethan Rowe online casinos bonus expert and chief editor of a popular UK gambling aggregator site, ‘is that gambling will be excluded from accessing any market in the European Union. This means that a British gambling company will be automatically banned from taking part in any bidding process for gambling licenses in any of the European Countries. This can have severe repercussions especially for those online brands that are based in the UK, yet they do operate in a lot of markets in Europe.’
This is however only one problem of Brexit for UK gambling operators.
The industry will face many challenges with Brexit
There could be several impacts on UK gambling operators following Brexit. One of those it is likely that the regulation will change significantly: the British government, for example, would need to decide if the European residents will have the same rights as UK citizens.
Gaming tax will also be looked at. Some online operators decided to leave the UK when the tax law changed back in 2014: Brexit might push others out of the market with the effect of less competition and therefore fewer opportunities for UK punters.
Other British territories outside mainland UK will also be affected by Brexit. Isle of Man and Gibraltar, in particular, have benefitted from offering to UK gambling operators some law-taxes regimes. They are also home of some big iGaming players like 888 Holdings, PartyPoker, PokerStars and so on. If UK leaves Europe without a deal, those companies will have to necessarily relocate to avoid being able to compete in the other European markets. In a nutshell, they will have to choose to stay in the UK or in Europe.
Gibraltar will be impacted hard in case of a no-deal Brexit or even an hard-Brexit. The territory has already seen some decline in revenue due to recent mergers, and it is making contingencies plans to reduce the impact. Some operators like bet365 and 888 Holdings are likely to move operators to Malta that is based in the European Union: in this way, they will be able to continue to operate in the several markets they are now.
Apparently, though the UK Government has promised Gibraltar to have access to the UK’s remote gambling markets after Brexit. This could alleviate some pain as companies that will still want to operate in the UK will be able to set up offices in Gibraltar.
UK Casinos are continuing to grow
Even if there is a lot of uncertainty around Brexit, Casinos in the UK are continuing to do well, especially the ones that are online based. The growth, however, it is not only limited to online casinos. Industry stats that have been released by the UK Gambling Commission says that the total gross gambling yield of the UK gambling industry has increased a 0.7% in the last year.
Casino attendance in the UK, as well as the revenue of others gambling products, has grown significantly and it is continuing to do so. In addition to being more UK punters, there are also more people that do rely on gambling as a source of income.
The Post-Brexit Future
Similarly to others industries in the UK, it is challenging to know what it will happen post-Brexit. It is however sure that the impact will be higher in case of an hard-Brexit or a no-deal Brexit: this will almost certainly cause a significant loss of players and as a consequence lots of job losses in the sector with severe effects on the UK economy as a whole.
Time will tell but the issues that will come post-Brexit are likely to be complex and long-lasting.