Online gambling operators could struggle in post-Brexit Gibraltar warns Better Collective

 
Francesca Washtell
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Gambling companies could face turbulent times on the British overseas territory (Source: Getty)

Gambling companies with online operations based in Gibraltar could struggle in the wake of yesterday's vote to leave the European Union, an affiliated industry group has warned.

The Gibraltar issue has the ability to affect the betting industry more than the shock Brexit result and the plummeting British pound, Better Collective said. Companies such as William Hill, Ladbrokes and Bwin.party have online operations based on the UK territory.

"Gibraltar-based operators will suddenly find that they don't have an EU licence, and it remains to be seen whether they'll struggle to operate in major regulated EU territories such as Germany," Michel Kopec, senior business manager for Better Collective, said.

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"It can also affect those based in Gibraltar but with operations or servers based in the EU, which means that bookmakers and their suppliers could soon be packing their bags – with Malta the likely destination."

Those operating in the British overseas territory will face "huge headaches" up ahead as they attempt to shore up their activities in mainland Europe.

Read more: Brexit vote slashes bookmakers' share prices

Yesterday Gibraltar, which was the first counting area to declare for yesterday's referendum, voted overwhelmingly in favour of staying in the EU – only 4.1 per cent of voters supported an out result.

Earlier today, AFP reported that Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo had proposed the idea of British-Spanish co-sovereignty for Gibraltar, with the idea that Spain would gain full sovereignty after a period of time.

The territory's chief minister said today that Gibraltar is not willing to become sovereign to Spain.

Better Collective added that the gambling industry was also likely to feel the pinch of the plummeting British pound.

Sterling suffered one of its worst daily falls on record today, at a rate unseen since 1971. At one stage the pound fell as low as $1.32 against the dollar, a fall of more than 10 per cent from the highs of $1.50 it reached yesterday.

Read more: Ladbrokes says bookies face "tough questions" on why they got Brexit wrong

"Bookmakers and their suppliers are going to feel the pinch almost instantly, as many operate across the EU where prices for services will be hit by the poor pound," Kopel said.

"Income for many international affiliates that are rooted in the currency are going to be hit by the payments they’re taking in GBP, with many based in countries such as Denmark, Malta and Germany. This will be a huge issue in the short term, and it’ll take robust planning to weather the storm and emerge on the other side.

"On the regulatory front, bookmakers and affiliates shouldn’t be affected for now, as the Gambling Act regime is a stable one, with many organisations well briefed and prepared for any potential changes."

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