Now that the U.K. is no longer a part of the European Union (EU), it is in the process of formalizing its own criteria and regulations for a wide range of topics. One of these centers on immigration policy, and stricter rules are expected to be put in place. However, the new post-Brexit U.K. may not be as prepared to stand on its own two feet and, according to a gambling industry trade association, the new immigration rules are going to cause serious issues with the country’s gaming sector.
The U.K. plans on implementing a new “points-based” immigration system, even for those coming from the EU. This essentially means that individuals will only be approved for a work visa if they can secure enough points based on different criteria, such as the ability to speak English and having obtained certain education levels, among others. According to a report by the U.K. Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), this is going to put a serious dent in casino operations, as well as in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
The new policy is expected to take effect as of January 1 next year, and many casino croupiers currently working in the country under previous EU laws could find themselves being shown the Brexit exit door. The BGC asserts that as much as 70% of casino croupiers are foreigners, and that they may not qualify for employment under the new regime.
The group adds, “Casinos remain a hugely important part of Britain’s leisure economy, attracting tourists to the U.K. and providing an unrivalled social experience for millions of people each year. A vibrant, modern and world-renowned casino sector is a driver for high-value tourism from China, the Middle East and elsewhere. The Federation of Small Businesses has warned that the proposed measures will hit hospitality and tourism businesses hard. Casinos employ over 14,000 people, indirectly support another 4,000 jobs across the U.K. and contribute over £300 million [$383.88 million] in tax revenue every year.”
With so much at stake, there is concern that the U.K.’s casino industry will suffer yet another blow, in addition to the stricter gambling rules now being enforced, and lose out to competition that is growing elsewhere, especially in Asia and other parts of Europe.
The BGC’s CEO, Michael Dugher, asserts, “While we are determined to grow the number of U.K. croupiers through the NVQ in Gaming Operations available at many colleges and through the [world-class] Nottingham Casino Academy, we need the ability to employ the best from around the world. Using arbitrary skills or salary requirements will damage highly successful parts of the U.K. economy.”
In order to overcome the expected drop in talent and revenue, the group is pushing the government to allow casinos and certain hospitality segments to be exempt from the new immigration rules. It wouldn’t be difficult to do – exemptions have already been included in the immigration policies for other sectors, so U.K. lawmakers were aware that they could suddenly find themselves short of qualified workers. Adding certain aspects of gaming into the mix shouldn’t be too difficult of a task.