Will Brexit Affect Online Gambling?

On the 23 June 2016, the public of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. For months in advance it was the hot topic on everyone’s lips and, despite niggling concerns that the vote may actually be to leave, the majority of the international community considered it unlikely. It turns out they were very wrong. Prior to the vote, the majority of the information shared was about the possible uses of the tax money available should it be redirected from the coffers of the EU, but since the result became public, the focus has been on the impact.

While it is undeniable that the Brexit vote impacted the economic stability of the country, and will continue to do so, one of the more subtle outcomes is the concern around the impact to the massive international industry of online gaming. The UK Gaming Commission plays a pivotal role in setting the standards for licensing within the EU, and has to some extent been a mediating influence on jurisdictions that may otherwise have become very black and white in their legislation. Experts are concerned about how the withdrawal of the UK influence will change the face of gaming legislation in Europe in the coming years.

The UK itself is home to 6 jurisdictions of gaming licencing, the most influential of which include the UK Gaming Commission, Gibraltar and The Isle of Man. Gibraltar, the home of over 30 licenced gaming companies, looks likely to be the most affected, even if only from a standpoint of staffing. There have been several border difficulties over the years for those who live in mainland Spain and commute daily to Gibraltar. The Spanish foreign affairs minister has already made several threatening statements about the changed to the relationship post Brexit, and it remains to be seen if he will follow through.

Gibraltars Gambling Commission head, Phill Brear, made a statement prior to the vote that he considered the “leave” outcome to be highly unlikely. However, he stipulated that it would only be wise to include a possible exit vote in all plans going forward. We can hope that this was done and that strategies are in place to mediate the changes coming their way. There is some time however, as the actual exit of the UK from the EU will likely take at least two years, and will require a lot of very careful negotiation.

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