Gibraltar’s gaming industry is putting on a brave face despite lingering questions over the British Overseas Territory’s future in a post-Brexit world.
The British public’s vote to leave the European Union has prompted much speculation regarding the fate of the couple dozen Gibraltar-based online betting firms that theoretically stand to lose access to EU markets and whose employees may lose their ability to freely travel to work from homes in neighboring Spain.
On Friday, Gibraltar’s Minister for Gaming Albert Isola (pictured) issued a statement saying the gaming sector “remains strongly committed to its Gibraltar operations.” Isola said the government had spoken to each Gibraltar-licensed operator to “assure them of our support and vision for this sector in the short, medium and long term.”
Isola also said that the Gibraltar government’s discussions with their UK counterparts suggested “there will be little or no change to the current arrangements for those who live and work in or travel to Gibraltar, and all the indications are that it really will be ‘business as usual’.”
Moreover, Isola claimed that Gibraltar-licensed operators had “confirmed their intention to continue with their expansion plans in Gibraltar,” both in terms of widening their office space footprint and to fill these spaces with new employees.
The Gibraltar Betting & Gaming Association (GBGA) issued its own statement welcoming Isola’s remarks and affirming its willingness to work with the Gibraltar government during “this period of uncertainty.”
The GBGA emphasized that until the UK actually Brexits, no changes will be forthcoming. The GBGA also noted that more and more EU markets now require local licenses and thus the Brexit impact on GBGA members “is therefore likely to be minimal.”
However, EU politicians have stated that Britain won’t have a long grace period in which to invoke Article 50 and begin its Brexit. Once that process begins, Gibraltar-licensed operators could choose to relocate to Malta, a rival licensing jurisdiction and EU member state.
Gibraltar voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, as did Scotland, and there has been some highly speculative talk about these two teaming up on a bid to re-enter the EU, which seems about as probable as some overeager Spanish foreign ministry comments about finally reclaiming Gibraltar three centuries after Spain lost the Rock to Britain.