Albert Isola, Gibraltar’s Financial Services and Gaming Minister, recently said the territory’s gaming business, which is a major contributor to its economy, still has a bright future despite the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.
The minister made his comments at the the 7th Annual KPMG gaming which took place on March 23rd at the Sunborn Hotel and was attended by more than 300 delegates from across the world including 40 keynote speakers and experts from the world of online Gaming.
Gibraltar, which is a British Overseas Territory and will leave the EU alongside the UK, is the home of many online gaming giants and players can get access to wide range of online games including Bingo, Poker, Roulette, Blackjack, etc.
Isola said that growth figures for financial services and gaming sectors have actually increased since the decision to leave the European Union.
He also assured his audience that his government has been working closely with the UK to resolve the various challenges faced by the industry including maintaining fluidity at the frontier.
Although 888, one of biggest companies of Gibraltar that operates a wide range of gaming brands from bingo to sports betting, has been evaluating the option of moving its headquarters from the Rock to Malta post-Brexit; Isola assured stakeholders that this was nothing negative.
He also confirmed that the Government is engaged in a very positive, healthy and constructive vision for the gaming community of Gibraltar. He stated that after Brexit, every gaming company will be making their possible choices on a move.
Isola also promised an unequivocal support from the Gibraltar Government for the local online gaming industry which currently employs more than 3,350 individuals.
Even though the Brexit vote last June created huge shock waves among the gaming giants, 2 more new firms had applied since then which have been granted gaming licenses.
He also stated that 3 more firms had already applied which are currently in the pipeline. He also added that the most important concern is the access to U.K. market which he ensured that they will be able to continue with.
Other topics discussed during the eSummit included European regulations, self-regulating practices, risk management, stakeholder compliance, future technology impacts and new market entries.
888 Holding’s annual report was announced last year and in a section related to the various upcoming risks faced by the gaming industry firms in Europe, the company made an announcement about its decision to move its regulated headquarters from the Rock and was exploring possible options of relocating its headquarters to Malta.
The report also discussed the possible risks post-Brexit for many gaming firms whose businesses are based in the UK and the 31 firms which are licensed and regulated in Gibraltar. It stated that the proposed status of Gibraltar in relation to the UK post-Brexit was unclear.
It mentioned that if 888 were to continue its operations in Gibraltar under the current situation, its ability to rely on EU freedom of services/establishment principles to supply its services might be limited.
Though various firms are exploring post-Brexit options, Mr Isola’s promise about the unequivocal support from Government instilled positive spirit and hope among the major players. Even Clive Hawkswood, head of the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) shared a positive enthusiasm towards Gibraltar’s post-Brexit growth.
Minister Isola gave a brief outline of the measures his department will follow in the upcoming months in gaming and financial services to best prepare to meet the various challenges which lie ahead.
He also stated that business would continue as usual and the Ministry of Financial services will work harder to retain the gaming business which Gibraltar enjoys at present. He assured that whatever changes may come, there is no need for any panic and those changes will not have any negative impact until 2019.
A review of Gambling Act, which was announced earlier this year is being analysed to further assess the risks of Brexit to the gaming operators of Gibraltar and also to figure out the problems that Gibraltar as a jurisdiction will be able to deal with in order maintain its position as the premier online gaming jurisdiction.
Isola also assured attendees that the government of Gibraltar is working towards arrangements with the UK and other markets with whom they may build direct relationships.