Brexit has been an on-going issue for the nations of Europe for two and a half years due to the exact deadline date being postponed three times and it not being sure that it would even happen in the end. This has caused uncertainty about the future of businesses involved in the UK, including the online casino gaming industry. However, as a result of the recent general election in the UK, the elected government has achieved a majority in parliament. This means that the proposed deal that was previously voted down will now be passed.
Due to this, not only will Brexit almost definitely happen now, it could happen within just a couple of weeks, with the deadline date of January 30th likely to be met. As such, understanding how Brexit will affect online casino gaming and their players, which likely include you, is now more pressing and more important than ever before. This page is dedicated to highlighting exactly what you can expect when it does happen.
One of the key things to consider is how licensing applies. The UK has its own licensing body, the UKGC. All UK casinos offering casino bonuses and gaming services to British people need this license already, with casinos based outside the UK also needing this license to offer their services in the UK too. With this considered, for British residents nothing will change in terms of the licenses that must be needed to be obtained. When it comes to the other way around, and for EU nationals looking to play at UK casinos, then also there shouldn’t be any issues as these casinos need a European gambling license too. Either from the MGA, Malta Gambling Authority, provided by the Gibraltar Gambling Commission, or any other of the smaller licenses available. Both of these main ones are likely to be easily obtained by UK casinos, particular the latter with it being an overseas territory of the UK anyway. With this considered, the licensed casinos available to you, whether you are in the EU or the UK, are unlikely to change.
In relation to this, there is of course regulations. Regulations about what is or isn’t allowed at online casinos are set by these licenses. However, again, these will not be greatly affected by the Brexit. This is because already the UKGC sets some of the strictest regulations when it comes to the world of online casinos, particularly when it comes to what is allowed for bonuses and promotions. With this considered, the casinos under the UKGC already have very strict laws which have nothing to do with the bodies in Europe. As such, the regulations will be continued to be in place and monitored by the UKGC autonomously. This means that whatever rules are in place currently at your UK casino aren’t going to change because of Brexit, and will continue unless the UKGC specifically state otherwise.
The tax side of things though is something different entirely and this could have significant repercussions on how the casinos choose to do business. This is reliant largely on the manner by which the UK does eventually leave the EU. As most people are already aware, the biggest issue in regards to this is the fact that a no-deal Brexit would mean falling into World Trade Organization regulations and rules. The upshot of these would mean that UK casinos would have to pay a significantly higher amount of tax, because as the rules of the EU state that free movement of money, services, labour, and goods is ensured.
If the UK leave without a deal, then, of course, this will no longer apply to them and they would instantly pay the same tax as any other would-be country trading with an EU nation, most importantly in regards to gaming, Malta. However, this would be the worst-case scenario. If a deal is struck and is passed through government, this would determine the levels of taxes that businesses would have to pay. Exactly what has been agreed is not currently known so these taxes percentages are also not known. They will almost definitely be higher than they were before but are likely to be less than the World Trade Organisation values, but we do not yet know. Higher taxes though could cause some casinos with lower profit margins to go under.
Lower UK-centric focus
While regulations and licensing will not change, the question will be whether casino companies, as well as those associated with them such as affiliate sites or game providers will be willing to put up with the higher taxes or any other elements of uncertainty with the UK. These EU-based casinos are already having to change the way their websites work in order to focus on the UK market, if there are higher taxes or any other limitations in the UK market as a result of Brexit, the question would be whether they would be keen to keep a large focus on the UK.
While, of course, the UK is a large source of revenue, Europe is a big place with plenty of easier to source revenue. While if they are having to pay higher taxes in the UK, these companies may instead want to focus their operations on emerging markets elsewhere on the globe. Many casinos are already setting up shop in the expanding US and Canadian markets, while Asia is also becoming a hotbed for casino companies. This would mean that the UK would start playing second fiddle to these areas and the choice of casinos, games and services within the UK will likely suffer. While this is not guaranteed, it could be reflected.
While the licenses of casinos and the rules that are in place might not change, a smaller service as a result of Brexit is very much on the cards. If the taxes are too high or and the benefits become too few than casinos will have to focus on other markets. The result of this will be fewer games and fewer casino options, and perhaps even a few well-established disappearing altogether.