The Impact of Brexit on Online Casinos


The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union in June 2016 shocked the world and shook the foundations of European politics. One of the biggest countries on the continent opting to leave the world’s biggest trading bloc has had some pretty huge ramifications on everything from border control to pet passports, but what about the betting industry and online casinos? Let’s take a look at how Brexit has impacted online casinos and how it might continue to do so. 

Does the EU Control Gambling? 

Unlike a lot of industries on the continent, the European Union has no control over the gambling industry. As such, leaving the union has zero impact on the UK gambling industry from a legislative standpoint, at least in terms of a direct impact. 

The gambling industry in the UK is controlled by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC). This is one of the strictest regulators in the industry and has always acted totally independently from the European Union, even before Brexit. The same goes for all other countries in the Union, with differing levels of regulation depending on where you are. As a result, the UKGC has not had to make any changes to the way it operates. 

Operators licensed by the MGA and UKGC had to make a few changes as a result of the UK not being in the EU, but the impact of these was quite minimal, and certainly nothing that the customer would have noticed. 

Indirect Consequences 

While Brexit may not directly have an impact on the gambling industry, there are still plenty of indirect repercussions to it. One of the biggest of these is likely to be the ‘brain drain’ which is likely to have a big impact on the wider British economy. 

This is the idea that a lot of talented people will want to leave the UK as a result of Brexit, and that many already have done so in order to secure their own rights. There is also the chance that a lot of major companies may consider leaving the country and setting up in another location. Given that Ireland is just a stone’s throw across the water, it’s a strong possibility some operators will begin looking that way. 

As well as people leaving the UK, there is also expected to be a major drop off in talent arriving in the country. The loss of freedom of movement will put a lot of Europeans off moving to the country, and this could end up having an impact on the gambling industry, as well as other industries in the UK. A lack of creative minds is not good for the growth of any industry, and online casinos and operators are going to find it much harder to find talent from abroad. 

One lingering issue, that is particularly important in the gambling industry, is Gibraltar. The situation with ‘The Rock’ has raised some issues post-Brexit. While there has not been a huge change as of yet – a shift in laws regarding its status could have a huge impact on licensed operators that are based there. Many workers in Gibraltar travel from Spain, and while that is still okay now, the issues there have a history of reappearing. 

The White Paper and Delays 

The biggest talking point in the UK Gambling industry has been the long-awaited publication of the White Paper. This was set to be published following a review of the industry, however, it received multiple pushbacks as the make-up of the government and cabinet kept changing. While the changing of hands at number 10 has no doubt been one of the reasons for the constant delays, there is no denying that it has also taken a backseat as a result of Brexit. 

This could end up being one of the biggest impacts that Brexit has on the gambling industry, and on other legislations in the country as a whole. The government’s continued focus will be on making Brexit a success, while also cleaning up any economic damage that has been caused by the move. As such, other issues may end up being sidelined and not given due attention. Discussions on topics like gambling advertising and sponsorship in sports are not likely to get much airtime or be treated as a priority. 

Whether Brexit is a success or not will not be known for a long-time, but in the short-term, the direct impact on the gambling industry and online casinos in the UK is not huge. The UKGC has its own regulations that the EU has never had any control over, and as such, there is likely to be very little change from a player’s perspective. The indirect impacts of Brexit, however, could be felt by the gambling industry, and the UK as a whole, for some time.

Author – Nerijus Grenda


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