When asked about why they chose to set up in London as opposed to Gibraltar, the folks at Bodog were barely able to muster a response for laughter commenting: “You’ve clearly never been to Gibraltar!”
A quick comparison of the two places is a testament to the Bodog belief that London is a far more preferable living location than Gibraltar. London has more than 7,000 pubs and bars while Gibraltar has to make do with less than 20.
For many, leaving the UK to live in Gibraltar requires a huge change. So large that some of the bigger operators even employ a moving services teams to provide new employees with information on taxation, cost of living, accommodation, healthcare and everything else you could imagine.
This highlights just how much of a change taking a job in Gibraltar can be. This opinion is commonly held in some iGaming circles with many seeing it as a negative the location as a negative of the job.
However, there are those that aren’t so opposed to the idea of living in the sunny territory at the bottom of Spain. In fact, Rob Dowling, CEO of Pentasia, reveals that living in Gibraltar is something that many European iGaming professionals have come to expect.
He says: “When you’re a gaming professional and that’s where you’re building your career you’re aware of the fact that you’re going to need to move.”
“If you say you’re only going to work in London then Ladbrokes or Betfair (and now Bodog of course) would be the pinnacle of your career and it’s almost as if a glass ceiling is created.”
Given the difference in socialising opportunities available between the two places, it makes sense that Gibraltar jobs may actually be more suited to those in perhaps in the later stagers of their working lives.
He explains: “It might not suit younger people but if you want to go and work for PokerStars and be a senior director then you don’t have much choice because that’s where it is.”
32Red CEO Ed Ware’s experiences of Gibraltar echo these sentiments. Ware was at Ladbrokes in 1999 when he was asked to move out to Gibraltar and head up Ladbrokes International.
He explains why his immediate response was less than positive. He says: “My initial reaction was ‘no thanks’, especially as I had a young family to also consider”.
However, more than 10 years later and Ware remains on the Rock. Once Ladbrokes left to head back to the UK, he stayed and set up 32Red.
He says: “Apart from the weather, Gibraltar holds many advantages over London, not least of which is the ability to get things done here and having access to Government both directly and through our industry association.”
“From a social perspective there can be very few similar places in the world that offer the same level of safety and comfort.”
This level of safety likely comes from such a small population of less than 30,000 people – paltry compared to the 10 million plus said to be currently residing in London.
With regards to Ware’s perceived benefits of Gibraltar. The territory has an average of 300 days of sunshine per year – slightly more than London – and has low tax rates, which are always handy.
These tax rates apply not only to individuals but also to companies as well. Ware adds: “Economically it’s always going to be a challenge to match up the UK with how we are able to operate from Gibraltar.”
Be it low tax rates, safety or the weather, Ware reveals that, as suggested by Dowling, 32Red certainly don’t have any problems recruiting.
He explains: “I think these good people generally attract other good people to 32Red naturally. We are lucky when it comes to recruitment because I believe our reputation goes before us.”
With regards to remaining on the Rock, Ware certainly doesn’t appear to going anywhere anytime soon. On the subject of heading back to London he says: “I’d never say never but right now I think we have an established operation in Gibraltar that is flourishing and set to be here in the long run.”
Perhaps it just comes down to what you really value. For some, being able to go to 15 different bars in one night isn’t really a major selling point. For these people, the safe lifestyle that Ware speaks of and just being in a nice place is enough encouragement to work in Gibraltar.
There certainly aren’t any London offices with views like those, which Ware describes: “Our offices enjoy views of the Rock of Gibraltar, the Bay of Gibraltar, the Straits of Gibraltar, Spain and Africa!”
That sounds like some contrast from my current position in London overlooking a block of council flats. But I bet Ware can’t walk to 10 different pubs or restaurants in two minutes!