Casino Blog


Online gambler? What Brexit may mean for you

If you voted for Brexit and you use online casinos, poker rooms or sports books then you might not have realised that you could have just done yourself a disservice. If you voted against Brexit and you’re an online gambler then you might be surprised to learn that the UK’s impending divorce from the European Union will have any effect on online gambling whatsoever. The fact is that Brexit will change countless aspects of the lives of UK citizens, and online gambling is one of them.

“The main issue post-Brexit will be licensing,” said Peter Addison, an online gambling consultant at casino information site CasinoUK. “The rule for UK online gamblers is crystal clear – if you’re resident in the UK then you should only play at an online casino, sports book or poker room that has a UK Gambling Commission licence, although don’t worry too much if you break this rule as it’ll be the casino at fault, not the player!”

Several UK territories are also licensing issuers, namely Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, Alderney and Guernsey, and all are likely to be affected in different ways when Britain’s messy divorce from the EU is completed. Microgaming, for example, makes its home on the Isle of Man. The company will have to ask itself some serious questions as the whether it can remain in a place where free trade with the EU is no longer a simple task.

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The main territory to be hit by Brexit is likely to be Gibraltar, though. A staggering amount of online gambling companies moved their base of operations from the UK to the Spanish peninsula in the 2000s – think Ladbrokes, BetVictor, Stan James, 32Red, Cassava Enterprises, Mansion, Nektan … the list is pretty substantial. Plenty of online wagering companies also have business premises in Gibraltar – for example IGT, NetEnt, Scientific Games and Yggdrasil Gaming. All of these firms will be hit when Britain finally leaves the EU, as it is scheduled to do in March 2019.

One of the most attractive aspects of Gibraltar for online gambling companies (aside from the lax taxation laws) is the trade it does with Spain. Many of the people employed by the likes of Ladbrokes and Stan James reside in Spain, and many of the smaller local companies who provide important non-gambling services for them are also Spanish. Currently this is not an issue because as per EU rules the border between Spain and Gibraltar is little more than a toll-booth. Spain has already indicated it will close the border between itself and Gibraltar post-Brexit, making movement in and out of both Spain and the EU much more difficult, and much more expensive.

The likelihood is that Gibraltar-based online gambling companies will find a new home, with Malta being the red-hot favourite. This will effect the UK, in that Gibraltar-based online gambling companies currently pay a fifteen percent ‘Point of Consumption’ tax to the UK Government, which will slide if companies move elsewhere.

As for the effect on online gamblers themselves, it’s like Brexit overall – who really knows?