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How will Brexit affect Ireland’s burgeoning igaming sector?

Written by Contributor, on 13th Sep 2019. Posted in General

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Ireland’s tech industry has a proud history of being right at the forefront, and Dublin, in particular, has been home to some of the biggest names over the past 20-30 years. As the world has embraced igaming, Ireland has been quick to react, despite being at an initial disadvantage due to archaic laws that made online gambling illegal.

Yet while other nations on both sides of the Atlantic sat on their hands, Ireland rapidly passed new legislation in 2015, and four years later is a powerhouse in the igaming sector. The sheer number of sites that come up when you search the internet for Ireland no deposit free spins and similar offers or promotions is little short of mind-boggling. 

The Brexit factor

This growing sector within the broader tech industry is watching negotiations in Whitehall and Brussels closely. A government research paper from last year estimated that Ireland’s overall GDP would be impacted by something between two and seven percent by Brexit. This very much depends on the “deal or no deal” discussions that must surely come to a head within the next six weeks. 

From the outset, it was clear that some industries within Ireland would be affected more than others. These included food and agri, retail, chemicals and web-based businesses. 

The online casino business falls into the latter category, but carries its own complications. Currently, UK gamers can access a whole host of igaming sites that are based in many jurisdictions. These include all those Irish sites mentioned earlier, but also many that are based in Malta, Sweden, Norway, Germany and various other locations across the EU.

Of course, all depends on the final “divorce terms,” but given Boris Johnson’s uncompromising stance, it seems increasingly likely that if there is a Brexit deal at all, it will be on the “hard” side. This means that those operators who are accessing the UK market under a single EU Licence will have to apply for a new one with the UK Gambling Commission. 

An opportunity for Ireland’s igaming businesses

When you take a step back and look at the likely igaming landscape post-Brexit, this could be as much an opportunity for Irish businesses as a threat. It presents a chance for Ireland to use both its close relationship with the UK and its proven ability to react to changing times to become the main conduit for access to the UK’s vast online gaming market. 

Considered from that perspective, the outlook might not be so gloomy after all. While the UK battles with itself and the EU to find its path through Brexit, there are changes afoot to the west that are no less dramatic. The US is softening its stance on igaming, particularly as far as sports betting is concerned, and it is a question of when, not if, casino gaming will follow a similar path. Ireland could be perfectly positioned to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by both of its neighbours once the dust finally settles. 

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