31st October 2019 is the date pencilled in for Brexit – deal or no deal. By the end of October, more than three years will have passed since the UK referendum and yet it still feels as though we’re no closer to knowing what the impact of Brexit will be.
Below, I’ve looked at some of the key areas of the UK and European gambling industry and assessed that the impact of Brexit might be on them – land-based casino owners and employees should take a seat before reading on.
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How Brexit will impact UK & EU gambling licensing & regulation
One of the arguments presented in favour of Brexit is that EU legislation is too strict – that there are too many rules, regulations, and licensing issues, and that this holds businesses back. However, gambling is one area where the UK adopts stricter licensing and regulation than the EU.
An example of the UK taking a firmer licensing and regulatory position than the EU is in its approach to tackling underage gambling. The UK Gambling Commission makes it a requirement that any gambling advertising in the UK must have a sign that states “no underage gambling.” This is not an EU requirement, and just 13 of the other 27 member states insist on it being used.
So, while I can’t be definitive (we simply don’t know what the future holds), I’m saying cautiously that Brexit will not have a great impact on licensing and regulation within the gambling industry.
How Brexit will impact UK & EU gambling trade & employment?
There’s been much talk in recent years about the EU’s commitment to an “ever closer union,” with this being used as an example of how the EU represents a threat to national sovereignty. However, the EU was founded upon trade and that remains the biggest part of the union.
The single market allows for frictionless trade and labour movement between member states and as the UK is set to leave this, surely, the result will be a negative impact on the gambling industry (as trade will be harder)? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple as yes or no.
Without access to the single market, there will no longer be frictionless trade between the UK & EU. This will impact land-based casinos that rely on EU workers, along with goods from EU nations. However, online casinos may (there is no defined way of treating in EU documentation) be looked up as being a digital service. Digital services are not subject to EU trade tariffs, meaning the impact of Brexit upon online casinos should be less severe than on land casinos.
The impact of Brexit depends on the type of Brexit we get.
Brexit means different things to different people – so much so that there are simply not enough words for us to spare to get into it now. What I can say, though, is that there could be a number of different types of Brexit and the one that we get will dictate the impact it has on the UK and European gambling industry.
The most likely Brexit (as of August 2019) is a no-deal Brexit, as I’ll explain now. The deal agreed between Theresa May and the EU was rejected three times before Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, and Johnson’s administration has stated that the UK will be leaving the EU on 31st October 2019 – deal or no deal. The EU has explained there will be no renegotiation of the deal it agreed with May’s government.
In a no-deal Brexit there will be no trade agreement, no arrangement for European’s working in the UK gambling industry and vice-versa. How will this impact the industry? No one knows, and that’s the point – Brexiteers claim the impact will be negligible, while remainers are predicting catastrophe. But we’re into unchartered territory and that means it’s impossible to say definitively how UK and European gambling will be affected.
Brexit is the biggest change to the relationship between the UK and Europe since the former joined the EU. Since becoming part of the union, the UK and EU have built an enormous number of political, legislative, social, regulatory, licensing, trade, and employment ties, and the gambling industry is no exception.
While I can cautiously state that the regulatory and licensing impact shouldn’t be too severe, and that land casinos will be hit harder than online ones, it’s just impossible to say how Brexit will impact UK and European industries – and that’s what’s so worrying about it for the gambling industry.Follow us on