Published on 8 May 2017 by Adam
Ever since the UK voted to leave the European Union on June 23rd 2016, there have been various commentaries across all industries which try to suggest what will happen next. The truth? It’s impossible to guarantee anything at this moment in time, as it largely depends on the kind of trade deals the UK can negotiate with the remaining EU members. However, many businesses and organisations are concerned about their future – and online casinos are no different.
In the first of its kind so far, 888 Holdings, the parent company of the much-revered 888 Casino and 777 Casino, hinted that they were actively pursuing relocating from their current home of Gibraltar to another EU state within their 2016 annual report. As Gibraltar is still part of the United Kingdom, it is currently unknown what “the rock’s” status will be once the divorce becomes official in and around the expected date of March 2019. So, could Malta be the one to benefit?
888 Holdings Could Well See Malta as Their Next Move
Gibraltar and Malta are very similar in terms of iGaming. They’re both relatively small plots of land in southern-Europe, each offering a casino gaming license which is widely recognised as one of the best around. Subsequently, plus a few additional perks, they’ve become a huge draw for online casino operators and other iGaming companies – taking up a considerable chunk of each region’s GDP.
Now, with Gibraltar’s access to EU trade becoming less secure by the second (as the UK has all but ruled out remaining in the single market), it’s highly likely that 888 Holdings’ comment within their annual report which stressed the need to “rely on EU freedom of services/establishment principles” will spell trouble for the British overseas territory. The European Court of Justice recently ruled that the UK and Gibraltar should be considered a “single entity”, proving to be even more of a headache for officials moving forward.
While 888 have claimed that they’d still maintain some form of presence within Gibraltar if a move were to happen, it is thought that they’d move the bulk of their operations to Malta for continued access to the single market.
Why Brexit Could Spell Disaster for Gibraltar
Despite Gibraltar voting overwhelmingly for the UK to remain a member of the European Union, it’s a view that wasn’t shared back in Blighty. And, as we’ve just explained above, revoking the rock’s rights to remain at least a part of Europe’s economic area could prove to be catastrophic for the region moving forward.
While there has been plenty of concern that Spain may use their EU card to make a play for Gibraltar ownership (leading to social media fretting over a potential, yet very unlikely, war), it can’t be denied even by Westminster that its future is anywhere near clear. Our iGaming industry plays a massive part in the region’s economy, and here at Netent Casino we wouldn’t be at all surprised if others followed suit.
Who Else Could Follow in 888’s Footsteps?
Alongside 888, there are other, incredibly popular, online casinos that operate from Gibraltar. Pots of Luck and bookmaker favourite BetVictor are just a few examples – and they must surely be considering their options at the very least as well.
It wouldn’t come as a shock if these names end up releasing similar sentiments as the whole Brexit-Gibraltar debate gets shrouded in even more mystery, with uncertainty being one of the biggest deterrents for businesses across the globe.
We can only hope that some sort of solution is found between the UK and the EU with regards to Gibraltar, as 888 Holdings are clearly not keen to simply wait around with no contingency plan.