The United Kingdom is almost exiting the European Union. This impending departure from the regional and economic bloc is intended to inflict adverse consequences on the gambling industry in Gibraltar. This is because Gibraltar is under the domain of the United Kingdom.
In case Brexit goes through successfully, then firms that are located in the UK but which would wish to gain access to the EU market will have to make individual applications to this effect. This will further complicate issues for the various gambling operators. They will also forfeit the privileges that come along with the Mini One-Stop-Shop (MOSS Scheme). They will not be able to supply services and goods to the European Union except they register for it.
The reasons that underlie these likely adverse negative consequences are many. For one, the firms that are located in the United Kingdom shall no longer have access to the huge European Union market. This, of course, shall translate to reduced revenue inflows.
In response to these dangers, Gibraltar has decided to put in place certain intervention mechanisms. The city-state has decided to lower its tax revenues from gambling yet at the same time raise its license fees on gambling companies.
Many firms have also decided to take matters into their own hands. They have for instance decided to offload some of their operations to localities that are still within the jurisdiction of the European Union. The most notable examples of these are the Bet365 and 888 Holdings.
The issue is yet to be resolved conclusively though. This is because the Brexit deal has yet to be finalized. Moreover, various stakeholders within the gambling industry are still pushing for certain concessions to be made and guarantees approved.
As stated, Gibraltar has lowered its tax rate from gambling revenue. Before the Brexit talks commenced, the nation-state levied 1% tax rate on the revenue from gambling. It has reduced this rate drastically to a paltry 0.15%. This has given many firms that operate in the area some incentive to keep staying on the island despite the impending exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
On the same note, the nation has increased the license fees on new gambling firms. For instance, the business-to-business corporate entities are now supposed to part with $112,000 (£85,000) while their business-to-consumers are required to pay $132,000 (£100,000) for the license.
Given that license fees are a one-time expense, this increase is very unlikely to inflict a significant rise in the cost of doing business. On the contrary, it shall enable the state to make up for the anticipated loss of tax revenue at least in the short run.
In response to these latest developments, Bet365 has already indicated the intention of relocating to Malta. The Minister for Financial Services of Gibraltar, Mr. Albert Isola, has however downplayed this move. He maintains that Gibraltar still has the capacity to weather the storm and secure its financial standing even if the UK withdraws from the EU.
Some stakeholders have even contemplated looking up to the World Trade Organization for a guidance on the way forward. They draw their inspiration from the Case that pitied Antigua on the one hand and the United States on the other hand. The World Trade Organization did step in and offer an amicable solution.
This stand has mainly been inspired by the fact that service industries, of which gambling is part, has largely been given a wide berth during the ongoing Brexit negotiations. They also decry the complex nature in which the payments from gambling will have to confront. It will be interesting to see just how the issue will ultimately be resolved.