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How does Brexit Affect Online Gambling?

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How will Brexit affect online casinos and gambling? What happened was unexpected: the majority of the UK residents casting a vote on the 23rd wanted to leave the European Union. The news of the “Leave” winning was a shock for many. The immediate effects included a massive depreciation of the pound, as well as the biggest dip in the FTSE index for decades. The long-term effects of the UK leaving the EU, though, are yet to be felt.

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What will happen to the online gambling market? The United Kingdom is among the largest internet gaming markets in the world. It is home to some of the biggest companies in the online casino industry – think William Hill, 888 Holdings, Gala Coral, and their likes. These companies are present on most regulated markets in the EU. If the UK leaves the bloc, these companies can expect major changes to happen in their industry, too.

All major gaming companies based in the UK hold licenses in jurisdictions inside the EU, like Malta, for example. The impact on these will not be as big, since they will be able to continue operating on most regulated markets, just like before. Those with an Alderney license will be able to continue to operate, too, since the crown dependency was never in the EU. But some operators hold licenses issued by the authorities of Gibraltar which will leave the EU along with the UK – these will most likely apply for licenses in EU-friendly jurisdictions

I left bet365 out of the previous list for a reason. When the UKGC, the UK Gambling Commission, introduced its new tax regulations in 2014, the family-owned gambling giant did not like them too much. The company decided to move its international gaming operations to Gibraltar, which it considered “a mature and stable environment for international remote gambling operators”. After the BREXIT, bet365 might find itself outside the EU, it might move its HQ again.

Or Gibraltar could leave the UK and adhere to neighboring Spain, and stay in the EU. But this would complicate things even more, since Spain has a pretty restrictive set of gambling laws.

The long-term effect of the UK leaving the EU is, in turn, totally uncertain. Not only on online gambling, but on the EU as a whole. The worst-case scenario is the EU breaking up completely, which could harm the online gambling industry as a whole, with national gambling operators taking over their respective countries’ gambling markets completely. Which would be bad not just for the industry, but the players, too.

What about the players?

The operators having a license issued by the UKGC will be able to offer their services to UK-based players with no change after the BREXIT. Some European poker rooms and online casinos will close their doors in front of UK residents, but they will still have enough local operators to play at. And to compensate for the loss of gaming destinations, I’m sure there would be several brand new online casinos added to the roster, ensuring enough variety for the UK players.

The fate of online gambling becomes uncertain if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. But it surely won’t disappear completely.

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