Bet365 Expanding in Malta Due to Brexit
Online gambling operator Bet365 has confirmed that it is increasing its operational presence in Malta due to concerns about how Brexit will impact business. Certain areas of the business will be relocated to Malta from Gibraltar as the company is worried about how the UK’s exit from the European Union might affect the iGaming industry.
Bet365 has operated with a dual regulatory and licensing strategy position between Malta and Gibraltar for some time but has now decided it will be safer to switch its focus to Malta. It plans to expand its existing infrastructure in the country, as well as moving some of its functionality over there from Gibraltar. Since Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, it is unclear what effect Brexit could have on things there.
The operator released a statement, saying: “From an operational and technical perspective and given our operating model, it has become increasingly challenging to efficiently run multisite operations and this has necessarily resulted in us conducting a review of our operations. To assist with business planning and in order to maintain operational effectiveness, we intend to enhance our Maltese operational hub and relocate certain functionality there. We are now consulting with staff in relation to such relocation. It is intended to maintain a presence in Gibraltar and the final rationalisation will be determined after we have completed our staff consultation.”
A spokesperson from Bet365 said that the company, along with many other iGaming brands in Europe, is currently operating in “highly uncertain environment, driven primarily by the continuing Brexit landscape”. This was the main motivation behind its decision to expand the Maltese side of its business.
Bet365 is not the only operator to switch some of its operations from Gibraltar to Malta as a result of the confusion and uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Industry giant William Hill also has plans to open a new office in Malta.
Both Malta and Gibraltar have always been popular bases for gambling companies due to favourable laws in both. Now, Brexit means that those laws could be under threat when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.
What is Happening with Brexit?
Of course, no one really knows yet whether or not Brexit will, indeed, have an effect on the iGaming industry, or what that effect might be. As with nearly everything related to Brexit, matters are still too up in the air to be able to make definite statements about the future of iGaming in the UK.
When Will Brexit Happen?
Originally, the UK was expected to leave the EU on 29th March 2019, two years after it started the exit process by triggering Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty. However, the withdrawal agreement reached between the EU and the UK has now been rejected by UK MPs three times.
There was an initial extension granted which meant that the exit date was delayed until 12th April 2019. This has now been extended again, and EU leaders have backed a six-month extension. This means that the UK should now leave the EU on 31st October 2019. If the withdrawal agreement is ratified by the UK and the EU before this date though, it may leave sooner.
Could Brexit Still Be Cancelled?
Yes, although it is unlikely. Cancelling Brexit now would require a change in UK law, and that is not something that either the current government or the main UK opposition parties want to do. The European Court of Justice ruled last year that the UK could cancel the Brexit process without the permission of the other 27 EU members if the decision was made following a “democratic process”. By this, it means if Parliament votes for it.
What About the EU Elections?
The EU Parliamentary elections took place on 23rd May. These elections are held every five years to elect members of the European Parliament.
There was a lot of debate and uncertainty surrounding the EU elections because of Brexit. Theresa May had originally been against taking part in the elections and wanted to leave the EU before they took place. However, Brexit being delayed again meant that the UK was required to take part in the elections by the EU. Had the UK failed to take part, it would have automatically have left the EU on 1st June 2019, without any deal.
The results of the election are still being processed, but for the UK there is already a pretty clear outcome. The newly formed Brexit Party has received 31.7% of votes so far, with the Lib Dems coming in far behind them with 18.5%. Both Labour and the Conservative Party have suffered huge losses, coming in at 14.1% and 8.7% respectively. The Green Party currently sits at 11.1% of the votes, and the SNP at 3.3%, although it holds all bar two seats in Scotland.
These results show that despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the UK voters still stand by their decision.