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Gibraltar post-Brexit – no longer an online gambling haven?

The decision of the people of the UK to vote to leave the EU has created fears that Gibraltar will lose its status as something of an online gambling haven. Well-known operators such as Ladbrokes, BetVictor, the NYX Gaming Group and IGT all have their business headquarters on the peninsula.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has told the media that post-Brexit Gibraltar will remain just as it is now, a British Overseas Territory, despite the EU stating that Spain will have some input regarding Gibraltar’s future now that the UK’s EU exit has been triggered.

The triggering of Article 50 has put in motion what’s likely to be a very different and expensive process,” said Peter Addison of leading online gambling guide CasinoUK. “Gibraltar is known within the online casino realm for its thriving internet-based gambling industry and as an important offshore centre for all matters financial. The future of the territory is of utmost importance to the online gambling sector, and it seems unlikely that the status quo will remain once the UK is out of the EU, especially with Spain looking to interfere.

The tiny territory of Gibraltar is located on the southern coast of Spain, and has long been a bone of contention between Spain and Britain. It was captured from the Spanish in 1704 by combined Dutch and British forces, then ceded peacefully by the Dutch to Britain a decade later. A gateway to the Mediterranean, Gibraltar remains of strategic importance with fifty percent of the world’s seafaring trade passing by it and into the Med.

Spain has long coveted Gibraltar’s return, but the 30,000 or so citizens of Gibraltar rejected Spanish sovereignty in 1967, and for a second time as recently as 2002. Following Britain’s decision to leave the EU, it is thought that Spain might attempt to claim sovereignty over the territory yet again.

Brexit has created alarm over the future potential of Gibraltar to remain a gambling haven. By leaving the EU, the territory may face several issues in regards to the way its internet-based wagering services will be allowed to operate. Gibraltar’s lax taxation rules makes it favourable as a licensing destination, but that will likely change once ties are cut with the EU. Spain has already announced the closure of its borders with Gibraltar post-Brexit, something else that will no doubt affect Gibraltar’s status.

Gibraltar’s online gambling effectiveness is already under threat because of the UK’s introduction of the fifteen percent ‘Point of Consumption’ tax in 2014. The territory awaits a final decision from the European Court of Justice regarding its request to be exempt from the tax. This request does not look likely to be requested and one CoJ member has already voiced an opinion that in this regard at least, the UK and Gibraltar should be treated as a single entity.

Have you attended SiGMA last year? Relive the highlights from our last show and stay tuned for this year’s SiGMA. Watch out for what we’re branding as the ‘iGaming Village’ this year.

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