Will Article 50 Change Online Bingo?

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It seems like we can’t turn on our telly without hearing something about article 50 being triggered! The historic event happened in March of 2017, with the UK formally stating that they wished to leave the European Union. We were thinking this might be the point at which we knew more about Brexit but it just seems to have brought up more questions!

Recently, many of our readers in the UK have been wondering ‘will article 50 effect online bingo?’ and in this article we’ll be exploring the potential effects that this may have.

What is Article 50?

With the triggering of article 50, our prime minister has written a letter to the EU president to announce that we wish to leave. This was accepted by President Tusk, though he looked rather upset about it. It was almost like a break up!

This effectively kicks off two long years of negotiation in which we will need to figure out what exactly our new relationship with the EU will entail. This is a really tricky time for those in the gambling industry, as they’re just not sure what will happen next.

Will this Impact Bingo’s Legal Status?

To understand why gambling is such a hot topic when it comes to Brexit, you first have to understand the current set up. Right now, gambling operators are based on offshore territories, parts of the UK that aren’t part of the main isles. These places, like Malta, Gibraltar and Alderney are a part of the UK even though they aren’t in the British Isles.

They have their own laws on gambling, what many operators do is seek a license from one of these countries and then they can provide their services to the whole of the EU. Right now this includes the UK but this may not be the case for much longer. They still have to abide by the Gambling Commission’s terms, so we may see them taking over legislation in future.

These offshore territories are currently being fought over, with Spain wishing to take some of them back into the fold. Take Gibraltar as an example, this is technically attached to the landmass of Spain. They want to stay with the UK but this will also have consequences for their own people.

We can’t see bingo ever becoming illegal in the UK but there will most likely be a significant transition period.

What about Taxes?

Within these offshore areas, many operators don’t pay as much tax. They still contribute to the country that they work within but they aren’t subject to the arguably strict tax of the UK. This is appealing for these operators as they are able to keep more of their profits for themselves.

In the past year or so, we’ve been hearing about how unethical it is for companies to do this. There was a massive row over Amazon’s tax bill, as they paid none while operating in the UK. Whether or not you agree with this, it’s likely to change post-Brexit.

Unfortunately, this may lead to some operators shutting up shop. If they can’t afford to pay their tax bill then they can’t operate, it’s as simple as that.

Site Availability

Brexit and the weak pound seems to have affected the price of everything from Marmite to housing. Some bingo operators from overseas are finding it difficult to keep up with the value of this currency while still staying competitive. This has lead so some removing their sites from the UK market.

This is not a good thing for players, as we don’t want to see the number of sites that we have to play on reduced. Even though we’re leaving the EU, we still want to have access to the same sites and new operators as always.

One possible solution for this is for operators to work purely on a percentage basis. That way, the rewards you get are indicative of the amount your currency is worth, fluctuations and all.

Employment

We don’t always think of the chat host or network support as a person but these people will be affected by Brexit. Many people who live in Spain or other territories just walk over to Gibraltar to work as chat hosts or support. If the free movement of people is restricted then they will no longer be able to do this.

You may be wondering how this would affect the average player, but if a site can’t get the right staff to support their players then they may just shut down. Even if they moved over to sourcing UK labour, their costs would increase because of the additional levies and wages they would need to pay.

All of this generally makes getting into online gambling a much less attractive prospect for an investor. This will most likely slow the growth of the industry and reduce the amount of new sites that are available to UK players.

What’s Next in the Brexit Process?

The next two years will be the hashing out of all the fine print that we can only speculate on at the moment. It will be down to the UK government to negotiate what they want from Brexit and where they will still cooperate with the EU. The priority will be to figure out security and the movement of people first, before moving onto other aspects like legislation.

The good news is that the UK government have a history of allowing those in affected industries to weigh in on big matters. That means those that are actually in the gambling industry will be able to advise on all of these issues.

Final Thoughts

For the most part, nothing is going to change too much within gambling for the next couple of years. Brexit is most likely going to be an incredibly drawn out process with a lot of red tape, so don’t expect anything to happen quickly. In the year since the vote, there have only been minor changes to the industry, so players won’t notice a big change until later down the line.

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