FTSE250 operator 888 Holdings (888) is considering alternatives to Gibraltar as its operational centre, should the British Overseas Territory be negatively impacted or restricted by Brexit.
The governance of 888, are the first industry stakeholders to publicly view Brexit as a potential ‘future risk’ for its operations. Publishing its 2016 annual report, 888 detailed that Gibraltar’s current licensing remit remains ‘unclear’ with regards to servicing European gaming jurisdictions.
Last month, 888 CEO Itai Frieberger outlined the importance of growth within European regulated markets as a key dynamic of 888’s ongoing strategy and corporate value.
Looking forward, a Gibraltar Remote Gambling License may not be sufficient to fulfil 888’s regulatory strategy as certain EU member states could potentially deem Gibraltar regulatory provisions as ineligible once the UK officially leaves the European Union.
“The proposed status of Gibraltar in relation to the United Kingdom as a result of ‘Brexit’ is at present unclear,” 888’s 2016 annual report details
“If 888 were to remain registered, licenced and operating in Gibraltar in these circumstances, its ability to rely on EU freedom of services/establishment principles in supplying its services within the EU will be limited.”
The combination of low corporate taxes (1% cap) and Gibraltar’s full membership to the EU have seen the UK independent territory become the operational home to more than 30 online betting operators including; GVC, BetVictor, 888 Holdings and 32Red. With over 5000 sector employees the online gambling industry remains Gibraltar’s largest employer (population 32,000).
Last January, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the UK and Gibraltar should be deemed as ‘single entity’ in their freedom to provide business services, making it unlikely that the EU will provide any dispensation for the overseas territory to access the EU common market.