The BREXIT deal proposed by Theresa May is falling to pieces as the issue of the Irish hard border is emerging its head once again. But there is another frontier on the south that the country will have to manage as its EU divorce comes closer.
Gibraltar, the southern outpost of the UK could face problems because of gambling operators. Located in the southern flank of Spain, companies operating in Gibraltar are afraid that their land access could be restricted when the UK finally leaves the European Union. Now Spain and Britain will have competing claims over this territory which have already caused serious tensions between the two nations for over three centuries.
The rocky peninsula generates 40% of its economic output and 25% of its job via gambling and financial services.
Gambling hotshots William Hill Plc and GVC Holdings Plc already have over 1,400 employees working in the peninsula which became one of the betting hubs in Europe thanks to its favorable legal framework. It also has a better tax structure as compared to the UK. William Hill has a staff of 400 in the region, 80% of which comprises of compliance officers, programmers and financial managers who commute from Spain.
These companies are wondering that BREXIT may choke the entire border and will make them invest more in better remote office technology. They will also have to work on finding ways to fill in for their employees who cannot get to work because of the hard border. William Hill’s Chief Executive Phillip Bowcock said in an interview that it would take a lot of time to get across the Spanish border if the government decides to create detailed passport checks etc. in place. He said that such a measure would be a problem, but the company has plans to protect its business.
GVC chief executive Kenny Alexander said that the situation would be critical if it happened a decade and a half back when remote office technology wasn’t as sophisticated. Both executives spoke up after their companies reported growth in online betting for the full year. Both have been working to adjust their overseas operations to ensure that they continue to operate in the EU even if Britain goes out of the single market. The EU prospects are even more important for the operators now that the UK government is following tough measures for domestic gambling.
William Hill has already shifted some of its regulatory functions to the EU since acquiring Swedish bookmaker Mr. Green last year. GVC is also moving its servers to Ireland and will utilize Malta online gambling licenses for parts of its business. Its online gambling headquarters will continue to stay in Gibraltar.