Gibraltar wins Spanish support for gambling future

30 October 2018

Gibraltar has reached a tentative agreement with Spain to protect industry jobs and ease concerns over the future of gambling on the Overseas British Territory, amid ongoing uncertainty over Brexit.

The UK is due to exit the European Union (EU) in March 2019, but questions remain as to how this will impact Gibraltar and people working on the British island.

At present, some 14,000 people commute daily between Gibraltar and Spain, with many working in the island’s flourishing gaming industry. However, with the UK yet to reach a final deal on the EU for its departure from the Union, the future of this arrangement remains unclear.

However, Gibraltar and Spain have now agreed a deal of their own whereby if the UK can negotiate a deal before it leaves the EU, the current arrangements between the two countries will remain very much the same.

Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo has moved to diffuse the situation, saying “common sense has prevailed” and the territory has agreed terms with Spain on issues such as customs, policing and the environment, according to the Times of Malta.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also last week told an EU summit that his country will not use Gibraltar as a negotiating chip as part of ongoing talks with the UK.

The Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association did not immediately respond to a request from iGamingBusiness.com to comment on the move.

The deal with Spain represents the latest step in Gibraltar’s plan to retain the majority of its gambling offices. In July, the territory set out changes to licensing and duties as part of preparations for the potential impact of a ‘hard Brexit’.

Various major gambling brands have offices in Gibraltar, but some companies have already set out plans to move to other locations as a result of Brexit.

In May 2017, Paddy Power Betfair announced plans to close its Gibraltar office and relocate operations to another of its sites in Europe, while more recently both William Hill and Bet365 have confirmed they will open new sites in Malta.

However, on the flip side, Scientific Games recently set up a new sportsbook operations team in Gibraltar to support its global expansion plans in the sports betting sector.

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