On Thursday, the Stoke-based Bet365 issued a statement saying the company would increase its operations in Malta at the expense of its Gibraltar operations to “ensure [European Union] market access and to maintain and enhance operational efficiencies.” Bet365 plans to “maintain a presence” in Gibraltar but declined to offer further details.
The Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) reported that an undisclosed number of Bet365’s Gibraltar staff were handed redundancy notices on Thursday while other staff are being offered new positions at Bet365’s Malta offices.
Bet365 said its decision was due to a “highly uncertain environment, driven primarily by the continuing Brexit landscape.” A review of Bet365’s business had determined that it was “increasingly challenging to efficiently run multisite operations.”
One year ago, rumors circulated that Bet365 was planning a Malta shift but the company rejected these rumors as “speculation.” Gibraltar’s Gaming Minister insisted at the time that the company remained “totally committed to Gibraltar and the entirety of its workforce here.”
The Times of Malta previously reported that Bet365 had signed a €70m deal to occupy a “new property development’ in Malta. That deal was set to take effect once the UK completed its ‘Brexit’ from the EU by its original timeline of March 30, 2019. That EU departure date was recently extended to June 30 once it became clear that the UK government had no actual Brexit plan.
Gibraltar’s government now says that it will work with Bet365 through the transition to ensure that the company’s local operations remain “substantial.” The government also said Bet365’s shift wasn’t a stain on Gibraltar’s status as a gambling regulatory hub but are directly related to the UK’s ongoing Brexit uncertainty.
While other operators have either reduced or shuttered their Gibraltar presence following the 2016 Brexit vote, US-based operator Scientific Games announced last September that it was expanding its Gibraltar presence to house the company’s growing sports betting operations.