Brexit

TROUBLE FOR PUNTERS: Brexit Could Cut Britain’s iGaming Options

BRITAIN waited a long three-and-a-half years from the Brexit vote to actually come to fruition, with the Leave Means Leave celebration part at Parliament Square marking the occasion on 31 January 2020.

While the last day of January did commence the UK officially departing from the European Union, the country has a transition period to work out some of the finer aspects of Brexit. This new phase, the transition period, is set to expire on 31 December 2020, when UK and EU negotiations come to a close, with or without a trade agreement.

Trade negotiations are going to be taking place throughout the year, but given the stances of both parties, there is a chance that Brexit will result in the UK leaving the EU without a trade deal. Industries all over the UK are bracing themselves for what might come from a Brexit without a trade deal, including the multi-billion pound industry of online gambling.

No deal and the potential repercussions look set to ring through industries with brands that rely on work from the EU or offer services to the UK from the EU. As such, the popular entertainment sector of iGaming in the UK could see some changes from its current, much-enjoyed state of play.

PLAYERS LIKE THE STATE OF PLAY 

In the UK, iGaming – all real-money games online – is very popular. Governed by the great British institution that is the Gambling Commission, the scene has become the envy of the world. Introduced under the revolutionary Gambling Act 2005, the Gambling Commission has enabled the entertainment medium to flourish under their regulation, offering a diverse and ever-evolving gaming scene for players while also keeping operators under close watch.

The scrutiny of the commission has put faith in the online industry from the players, with the whole industry growing to over £14 billion per year. The immense level of competition online allowed by the Gambling Commission has forced operators to be better and develop better products, opening the scene to more players.

Starting with a great many flash browser versions of classic casino games and a few sports betting options about 25 years ago, the iGaming industry has evolved a great deal over the last few years. Coming into the lively market, Evolution Gaming has brought in a huge range of live casino games, with them finding a grand audience in the UK. 

The country has been a large contributor to Evolution Gaming’s rise in revenues through 2019. With the need for each brand to be better than the others, the development of these most advanced games has risen to the fore.

Even long-standing favourites like blackjack are seeing their players follow the new gaming revolution. While games like classic blackjack, European blackjack, and Atlantic City blackjack have remained popular, there’s no denying that the high-tech alternatives delivered by live streams online are winning over much of the UK gaming audience. For instance, a casino like Betway features three different types of live blackjack games

This visible progression was all made possible thanks to the highly competitive iGaming landscape in the UK.

Even in a sector that’s thriving to the extent of iGaming in the UK, the prospect of Brexit negotiations resulting in a no-deal is rather daunting. The uncertainty of Brexit has many firm industries quivering at potential outcomes, even the multi-billion ones like that of UK gambling, due to the amount of business that is done via the European Union.

IN THE EVENT OF NO DEAL

While both the UK and the European Union have claimed to desire a free-trade agreement without any tariffs or quotas. However, the terms that both sides are hard-set on have formed a sticking point.

The EU would have Britain adhere to their level-playing-field guarantees, but the UK’s leaders do not want to adhere to any EU rulings. While Boris Johnson has said that he shan’t commit to these rules, the new UK system wouldn’t undermine European standards. Brexit headlines appear to indicate Britain leaning towards a no-deal. While it may just be public posturing, Politicalite has already noted new chancellor Rishi Sunak having said that the country doesn’t need a trade deal with the EU.

Britain’s stance against maintaining EU laws runs even higher than the chancellor’s, however, with Johnson himself eloquently stating he’d “rather collapse talks than follow EU rules”. Without a trade deal, the UK and the EU could impose new tariffs and quotas on their counterparts, potentially driving companies away from doing business in either the UK or EU – depending on where they’re based.

The UK iGaming industry thrives on companies coming in from all over Europe, getting a licence by the UKGC, and then introducing new ideas and products to the sector, all made available to UK players. A no-deal might just have some companies second-guessing their place in the UK market, with any departures weakening the scene for players.

That said, if brands are forced to choose between the UK and the EU, the strength of the British market suggests that Britain will be the optimal choice. As reported by the EGBA, 34.2 per cent of the EU iGaming market is in the UK, valued at €7.3 billion. The stats won’t keep all brands on board, though. There has already been news of UK-facing platforms jumping ship, so it stands to reason that more will follow suit – especially if a no deal resolution is reached.

There’s no doubt that strong brands that remain in the UK after the Brexit transition period will uphold the high standards of the UKGC. But it seems inevitable that, should no deal be the outcome, some EU-based companies will pull out.

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