Brexit vote won't force us from Gibraltar say operators

Brexit vote won't force us from Gibraltar say operators

Friday, July 1, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Operators have given a demonstration of faith in future of the sector on the Rock

Online gambling operators and the Gibraltar government have responded to widespread fears about what Brexit might mean for the British overseas territory with a demonstration of faith in future of the sector on the Rock.

The Gibraltar ministry of financial services and gaming said in a press release issued on 30 June that after discussions with representatives of the remote gambling industry held in the wake of the vote that the sector remains committed to continued operations in Gibraltar.

Fears had been expressed by analysts and commentators over what an exit from the EU might mean for Gibraltar and its remote gambling operators with many expecting that Spanish attitudes to the question of sovereignty might harden.

There have been suggestions that the Spanish authorities could make life more difficult for those that regularly commute to Gibraltar from southern Spain and that the longer-term viability of UK gambling operator employees living in Spain might be in doubt. Worries over the future for Gibraltar outside of the EU saw a 96% remain vote in the referendum.

In a note to clients earlier this week, analysts at Morgan Stanley suggested there would be short-term pain from the leave decision. “Disruption to services and staffing in Gibraltar could negatively impact 888 and William Hill in particular,” the analysts said.

The ministry said the Gibraltar and UK governments would continue to work to ensure the best possible outcome for the ongoing discussions and that they expected there would be “little or no change” to the current arrangements for those that lived and worked in Gibraltar. It added: “All the indications are that it really will be business as usual.”

The press release added: “While this government and others believed that staying in the EU was the better choice for economic development and growth, any move away from the EU will provide new and different opportunities for our economy and we will ensure these are available to all our commercial sectors and Gibraltar remains a great place to locate a business.”

The business as usual line was taken up by William Hill, one of the largest operators on the Rock and which even named its ongoing strategic project Trafalgar after a pub in Gibraltar. The company moved its online business to Gibraltar in 2009 as the company looked to level the playing field with other UK operators that were already overseas-licensed and avoiding paying the UK’s gross profits tax.

Even when the UK introduction of the Point of Consumption (PoC) tax in late 2014 – and thus nullified the gambling tax benefit – the company reaffirmed its commitment to staying in Gibraltar. Now in the wake of the vote for the UK to exit the EU, a spokesperson said William Hill was “committed to working with the government in Gibraltar to support and promote Gibraltar's position as a strong, prosperous, international trading jurisdiction”.

Similarly suggesting it sees its future as being very much wedded to Gibraltar is 32Red which, in the wake of the letter from the ministry, also moved to reaffirm its commitment to continuing its presence in the territory. Chief executive Ed Ware pointed out that the largely online casino operator was “born and bred” in what he called a “centre of excellence for gaming”. He added: “We have a strong relationship with Gibraltar on many fronts and are heartened that the jurisdiction shows every sign of continuing to progress and develop despite the result in the UK.”

One company which has thrived in recent years after basing its business in Gibraltar is Lottoland which launched out of the territory in 2013 and now employs over 160 people. Chief executive Nigel Birrell said in the wake of the referendum that the results “does not change our firm commitment to staying here”.

“We’ve built a strong, cosmopolitan team of talented professionals from around the globe who enjoy working here and we’re actively looking to grow that team,” he added. “Our business is thriving and the benefits of staying in Gibraltar remain very strong indeed.”

Totally Gaming Says: "The outcome of the Brexit vote sent shockwaves throughout the world, although it seems the initial  prognosis for Gibraltar was perhaps too doom laden in uncertain times that followed the announcment of the referendum result. Many wrote off Gibraltar's future when the UK introduced its Point of Consumption Taxation, but operators were happy to remain on the Rock."

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