After years of tireless and divisive debate, the UK finally left the European Union on January 31, 2020. The “transition period” in which EU laws and regulations were still complied with ended a year later.
Since then, the impact of the June 2016 vote has been significant. At the French border, trucks, disputes over overfishing and of course different approaches to obtaining COVID-19 vaccinations piled up. However, unless you really tried to look for it, there is a noticeable lack of information about the possible effects that it could have Brexit could have had on the UK gambling industry.
Is that because the impact is minimal? Or let the media focus on other issues. We decided to conduct our own research to see what the country's exit from the EU could mean UK online casinos.
The EU has never regulated the UK gambling industry
The first and most important is that the European Union has never directly regulated the UK gambling industry.
The Gambling Commission has always played this role. To operate a casino, sports betting or poker room – be it in person or online – you must have a license from the UKGC. The Gambling Commission ensures that all operators treat players fairly, both with regard to the chances of winning they provide and with regard to the handling of financial transactions and personal data.
With the EU not having a regulatory role in the UK gaming industry, Brexit will not play a direct role in changing how it works.
Indirect effects of Brexit?
Of course, just because laws and regulations stay the same doesn't mean Brexit won't have any impact on the gaming industry. For example, some EU trading directives no longer need to be followed, although it is far too early to say exactly whether this will be a good thing or a bad thing for UK sports betting and casinos.
It should also be noted that the industry workforce may be affected. Brexit has deprived British citizens of the right to work in any of the 27 member states. From January 2021, EU citizens will no longer be able to work freely across borders. Instead, a points-based work visa would be required.
Many have speculated that these prohibitive new rules could deter many talented workers from moving to the UK. This in turn could reduce the overall effectiveness of the gaming workforce.
Gibraltar will be the key
Another possible effect of Brexit concerns the status of Gibraltar. This British overseas territory is home to the headquarters of several well-known British gambling countries. In the referendum, almost 100% of Gibraltarians voted to stay in the EU.
The reason it was so popular to stay a part of Europe was because a large percentage of The Rock's workforce commuted from Spain. Hence, it was important for the industry to maintain a smooth border in order for it to function properly. Gibraltar's status as part of the EU's free zone remains a matter of negotiation and getting the right outcome could be crucial for UK casinos.