Will Brexit Cause Upheaval in the Gambling Industry?

The Brexit opens a new scenario for many companies. Source: Stux Since 1960, when the UK government deregulated gambling in the country somewhat, the industry has flourished in a number of ways. Off-course betting was made legal for the first time. In addition, the law allowed for the establishment of bingo halls as well as casinos, although there was an initial restriction on the number of games that could be played in them. Since the 1960s, further relaxation in the gaming laws have seen innovations in the UK, such as the introduction of the National Lottery in 1993, for instance.Over the course of the last two decades or so, the rise of online gambling has taken the UK by storm, too. The multi-million pound industry caters for a UK clientele which numbers over two million people. Of course, online gambling is able to cater to customers who a non-residents in the place where the gaming is being hosted. This hasn't been much of a problem for European Union (EU) nationals while the UK has been in the same regulatory regime. That said, the gambling industry is facing up to considerable change in the near future due to Brexit, the UK's withdrawal from the EU. What are the likely changes going to be?

Revolution or Evolution?

The UK's government has negotiated a withdrawal agreement with the EU's commission. If ratified, this means that there will be no change to the gambling regulations the UK follows with respect to EU law for a twenty-four-month period. Nor will there be any restrictions on people or animals coming in and out of the UK from European states. In other words, the agreement will mean the UK transitions and will only see gradual changes in the future. Racehorses will still be able to come and go, a particular issue for Irish trainers who enter their horses into big meetings, such as the Cheltenham Festival, for instance. Visitors to gambling houses in London and other British cities should still be plentiful. Online gambling shouldn't be affected. However, if the agreement is not ratified - the so-called no-deal scenario - then there could be more immediate and dramatic change. This could mean much more significant alterations to the way the industry works from as early as April 2019. aerial view of the city of London Source:Pexels

The Role of Gibraltar and The Isle of Mann

Given the uncertainty that currently surrounds the government's withdrawal deal, it may be that the status of both Gibraltar and the Isle of Mann alter in a post-Brexit world. Both of these territories are impacted by Brexit but their own regulatory regimes mean that they differ from the UK itself. As such, they are centres of the online gaming industry with several well-known operators plying their trade to a global audience from each. After some UK gambling tax laws changed in 2014, the industry has relied on these territories more and more. Gibraltar, in particular, has already made extensive contingency plans to cope with the ramifications of a no-deal Brexit which include a new licensing arrangement for online gaming businesses that operate from there. However, some of the big operators may choose to relocate to other EU states where they will continue to be able to serve European customers unaffected by any hard virtual border between the UK and the EU. Malta and the Republic of Ireland look set to be the main beneficiaries of such a move. Whatever happens though, the UK gambling industry will simply have to adjust to Brexit - just like so many other service sector businesses.

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