Great Britain’s exit talks with the European Union are underway, and one of the pressing issues for a major British territory, Gibraltar, is the implementation of Brexit on the online gambling market, a major sector of the local economy.

To help tackle this, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia has recruited Minister for Commerce Albert Isola – head of online gambling in Gibraltar – to ensure that they can make positive progress. Gibraltar would still like to remain an area of low taxation and to keep access to the EU market and its freedom to provide services, but with Brexit getting underway, the Mediterranean island nation is under threat of losing a lot of the online gambling operators that call Gibraltar home. Effectively, Gibraltar needs to seek out a new form of relationship with the EU and the UK as advocate general to the European Court of Justice Maciej Szpunar took the view that Gibraltar and Great Britain were effectively one entity for the purposes of freedom to provide services.

It’s a peculiar circumstance to be in, and while many big names in the gambling industry have claimed to have no plans to depart Gibraltar just yet, it seems inevitable that if Brexit brought about impositions on operators to trade in the EU, they would simply leave. Gibraltar certainly isn’t the only “tax-haven” where online gambling firms can set up shop, with many already calling Malta their home such as Casino Heroes, who is licensed by the Maltese Gambling Authority to enable the online operator to provide its games to players in the EU. Others may leave Gibraltar to continue to run in a similar manner to how they do currently, only in a different country.

Gibraltar will be fighting tooth and nail to come out of these Brexit talks with a very similar structure to what they’re currently operating under for the sake of many of their industries, but largely for the online gambling operators. With unimpeded access to the massive EU market and low taxes, the industry has flourished on The Rock. The business from online gambling operators accounts for a massive 25 percent of the economy and nearly 12 percent of the jobs on Gibraltar, and this would only continue to grow as the European market continues to increase in size. There is a lot on the line for Gibraltar so they can’t afford for a “hard Brexit” to shut them off from the market within the European Union as their current residents within the online gambling industry will simply seek to base themselves within another low-tax nation with access to the EU market, like Malta.

'The Moorish Castle, Gibraltar' by AD Teasdale, via Flickr  (CC BY 2.0)
‘The Moorish Castle, Gibraltar’ by AD Teasdale, via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

But it’s not just the gambling sector that hopes that close ties can still be kept with the EU and that somewhat of a “soft Brexit” can be achieved on their behalf. When Great Britain held the European Union referendum and consequently opted to leave the EU, Gibraltar was one of the staunchest areas to oppose such a move, with over 95 percent of their voters wanting to remain. The Gibraltar EU Negotiations that commenced on Monday 11th December were set to address issues involving the likes of the online gambling sector and other financial services within Gibraltar as a part of the Brexit negotiations.