If there’s one thing that can be said for the UK’s online gambling industry, it’s that it’s booming. With industry growth having reached unparalleled heights, it seems like things couldn’t be going better for internet operators.
Brexit threatens to change that. With leading figures in the Conservative government seemingly still hell-bent on exiting the European Union at the end of the month, this thriving industry could be about to experience some very big changes.
Exclusion from the EU
When it comes to online gambling, most operators seek to cater to a global audience. Irrespective of where they’re actually located, many have customers from a host of different countries.
Indeed, some of the biggest providers in the UK have their headquarters outside of our borders, with Paddy Power, for instance, offering everything from bingo and live casino through to slot games and online poker at PP, located in Dublin.
This works in reverse too, with companies like Ladbrokes and William Hill, based in London, operating not only in the United Kingdom, but within a number of international territories as well, many of them members of the EU.
Those who fall into this latter camp are therefore concerned that a hard Brexit could result in them being stranded and left unable to continue their operations within Europe – a worry that experts claim is legitimate.
This is because leaving without a deal would force Britain to fall back on existing World Trade Organisation rules, potentially meaning that UK-based gambling companies would be excluded from bidding for contracts within the European Union.
The introduction of a gaming tax
According to an article published in Business Matters magazine, this is not the only challenge that the UK’s post-Brexit gambling industry could face. While many larger outfits remain optimistic over the long-term health of the online casino sector, there may well be changes to navigate before they can once more enjoy smooth onward sailing.
Firstly, experts suggest that industry regulations are likely to undergo a dramatic transformation. With the existing framework removed, the government needs to decide whether European residents are permitted to enjoy the same benefits as those in the UK, and there has not yet been any feedback provided on which way this is slated to go.
On top of this, it is possible that a gaming tax will be introduced. This is likely to prove unpopular with providers, as did a similar change to tax laws all the way back in 2014.
While none of these changes seem likely to prove disastrous to such a strong and thriving industry, they are liable to cause a number of challenges in the short-term – ones which operators will have to do their best to weather.
In this way, the online gambling industry is like many others, in that no one can say for certain quite how far Brexit will impact it – only that it will. What these changes will mean is impossible to predict, but what we do know for sure is that if Brexit does go ahead, online casino operators – much like the rest of the UK – will be keeping their fingers crossed for an advantageous deal that puts the long-term health of domestic industries at its forefront.