The Brexit and UK’s Online Gambling Sector

The gambling industry in the UK is on the rise. In fact, according to the latest statistics published UK Gambling Commission, the total gross gambling yield in Great Britain during October 2017 – September 2018 was 14.5 billion. Whereas the gross gambling yield of online gambling in the UK reached 5.6 billion during the same period.

No matter how hard the gambling industry tries to avoid the Brexit, it can’t escape it. Despite the industry’s growth, online casino operators and players are wondering how the UK’s exit from the EU will affect the economy in Britain.

Here’s a breakdown of how the Brexit might affect the gambling industry in the UK and how gambling operators are reacting.

Falling Back on World Trade Organization Regulations

If the UK leaves without a Brexit deal, it would fall back on WTO (World Trade Organisation) rules if trade negotiations collapse. It would be a problem for online casinos in the UK as they would be excluded from market-access commitments for EU services. This means that any English casino sites can be excluded from bids inside the EU.

Challenges

UK gamblers don’t share the optimism of large UK corporations related to the prospects for their companies’ future. Although nobody knows specifically how the Brexit will affect the industry, most gamblers and online casinos expect a negative impact.

In fact, it’s likely that regulations will change for the worst. The UK government must decide if EU residents will have the same benefits as UK clients.

What’s more, in 2014 many online casinos restricted UK players from wagering on their sites due to a change in tax laws. And the Brexit might lead to more doors closing if gaming tax laws will change again. Additional restrictive regulations could determine extra withdrawals from the UK market. Another issue concerns the liquidity of poker tournaments. Can UK online casinos sustain poker tournaments with less foreign players? Such a hit to their revenues may cause collapse or withdrawal from the UK market.

British Territories

British territories such as Gibraltar and the Isle of Man, where main gambling operators are headquartered may take a strong hit post-Brexit. Both territories enjoyed substantial benefits from the 2005 changes in gambling regulations. Also, they’ve reaped great benefits from being members of the EU. But Gibraltar is working on new strategies for the worst-case scenario, meaning a hard Brexit. This could involve some gambling operations being moved to Ireland and Malta. Gibraltar has already witnessed multiple mergers and acquisitions, which have led to many licenses being lost. And it expects more deals to go through. However, the UK’s government has confirmed granting Gibraltar access to its online gambling markets post-Brexit.

The Bottom Line

The future of Britain’s online gambling industry remains uncertain in case of a soft or hard Brexit. It’s likely that the UK will face job losses in the gambling sector. Additionally, many players will withdraw from the UK gambling market. This will negatively impact the British economy. Uncertain times await the UK gambling industry.