British and Irish iGaming companies have vowed it is business as usual despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
The continued uncertainty surrounding whether the UK will leave the EU leaves places such as the Isle of Man and Gibraltar in a state of limbo. The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland - which is also heavily affected by Brexit – means neither Irish country will be able to settle until after Brexit is determined either.
The hope is that the iGaming industry is big enough and therefore resilient enough to withstand any fallout from an EU withdrawal. However, even though the UK and Irish gambling industry is booming, it is thought that if Brexit happens, changes to UK gaming tax laws may turn the UK into a problem area for investors.
The overall value of the UK and Ireland gambling market exceeds £14 billion. iGaming has quickly become one of the biggest revenue markets in the UK and Ireland and generates a sizeable amount of tax for the UK and Irish governments.
Online casinos account for the bulk of the online gambling revenue that the iGaming market brings and there are dozens of online casinos within the iGaming sector which operate in the UK and Ireland. Many of these online casinos and iGaming companies are headquartered within the places that are being directly affected by Brexit including; The UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Gibraltar.
Several iGaming companies operating in the UK have committed their immediate future to the UK by setting up headquarters in Europe – places like Gibraltar, Isle of Man and Malta. However, if Britain is to leave the EU, then there is a chance that iGaming companies would need to either move their headquarters directly into the UK or cease from operating in the country entirely if the laws become stricter. Although iGaming companies will surely be preparing for the worst, they are not going to allow Brexit to affect the industry before a final decision on whether the UK leaves the EU or not has been made.
iGaming companies which operate almost exclusively in the UK and Ireland – the likes of PlayFrank, Paddy Power and Betfair – have moved their HQs to Malta, a country which has been dubbed as the iGaming capital of Europe. Bet365 also recently announced that they would move there operations from Gibraltar to Malta due in part to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
“Due to regulatory developments in various jurisdictions and the evolving global regulatory environment for online betting and gaming, we have decided to increase our existing presence in Malta, which provides a mature and robust regulatory environment for the industry,” stated a Bet365 spokesperson.
These companies, although they are not based in the UK, operate heavily in the UK gaming sector and have employed lots of UK and Irish workers. Whether or not a no deal Brexit will have any implication on overseas employment remains to be seen, however, it gives more anxiety to an already anxious industry.
It is thought that Malta iGaming sector employs over 10,000 people alone. Whilst the likes of the Isle of Man and Gibraltar especially, employ similar numbers. Brexit limbo, whether they like it or not, puts these jobs at risk.
Retrospective of everything, the iGaming industry that operates in the UK and Ireland has never been stronger. Although the Brexit vote caused and continues to cause some worried faces around the big boys of the gambling industry, they will, like all the other industries and businesses which have been picked up and dropped into uncertainty by the 2016 United Kingdom European Union Membership Referendum, carry on regardless and hope to get through unscathed.