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Laws to safeguard cross border access for workers, as more firms move in
“Unequivocal support” for the eGaming sector has helped to encourage more on-line eGaming and financial services firms to relocate to Gibraltar since the UK’s vote to leave the EU, despite concerns that a ‘hard’ BREXIT might lead to difficulties with border access from Spain for thousands of staff, reports Ray Spencer
sports betting, 50+% of casino and on-line bingo, and 10% of poker games – but most also have separate individual licenses to operate in European countries.
One of Gibraltar’s largest operators, 888, days earlier published its annual report that included a risk assessment on Brexit, which concluded that although the future was unclear, if the company operating in Gibraltar “’s ability to rely on EU freedom of services / establishment principles in supply- ing its services within the EU will be limited”; it might “become ineligible to retain existing licenses in some EU jurisdictions”.
Although the company could not control political changes, it would “reconsider the appropriateness of remaining registered, licensed and operational in Gibraltar in these circumstances. Malta may be considered as an alternative ‘dot com’ licensing jurisdiction,” 888 noted.
That position did not faze Minister for financial services and gaming, Albert Isola, who in opening the KPMG event, declared: “I would expect companies to make plans for what may happen at the end of the Brexit process – it is only right and proper – and I know every financial services and gaming firm has done exactly that.” He added: “I don’t see that as a negative” and promised consultation “with each of you to better understand what support and help we can give.	I am certain we will have a solution for you.”
So far this year, four licenses have been granted to providers of games to the sector, “which is where nearly all of the growth is coming from because we have all the major eGaming companies here already”, Phil Brear, Gambling Commissioner and Regulator, told Gibraltar International.
Despite eGaming industry consolida- tion, with an expected loss of five licensed firms, and the shadow of Brexit, there continues to be around 30 firms based in the jurisdiction. Three more license applications are in the pipeline, but Brear revealed: “We continue to have expressions of interest that don’t meet our licensing requirements (either from the businesses not being sufficiently well established, or not dealing with what we consider to be mainstream markets).”
In financial services (that account for a
Record numbers After Brexit, Gibraltar’s frontier will
border of Spain, but that “does not mean Spain is free to act as it pleases”, Peter Isola declared. There is EU legislation from last September regulating the “efficient” management of EU external borders that, although aimed at migration and potential future threats, is committed to ‘safeguarding the free movement of persons’ and ‘processing of personal data should respect the principles of necessity and proportionality’.
In addition, he pointed to a new European Agency being established under a EU Directive that will ‘oversee the effective functioning of exterior borders (particularly ‘neighbouring countries’) and ensure there are necessary additional resources, including ‘equipment, infrastructure, staff, budgets and financial resources’.
Cautiously optimistic
As Isola remarked: “I do not mean to underplay the challenge that this represents: uncertainty is never good for business.” Nevertheless, there are “good logical reasons to be cautiously optimistic”.
Gibraltar firms account for a substantial part of the UK’s eGaming market - 60-70% of
attend KPmG esummit 2017
become an external border of the EU and the threat of restrictions on free flow of pedestrians and traffic “fills many who live in Spain and work in Gibraltar with dread”, suggested Peter Isola, senior partner at local law firm, ISOLAS; the gaming industry that accounts for roundly a quarter of the jurisdiction’s economy, he conceded, could be
“disproportionately affected”. He was speaking as a sector expert
panellist at the KPMG 2017 eSummit near end-March, the seventh in Gibraltar primarily for the gaming sector, that now employs 3,350 people, two thirds of whom arrive daily from Spain.
A ‘live’ poll amongst the 260 delegates at the Sunborn Hotel showed 53% reporting continued “free movement across the frontier” was by far the greatest concern, whilst continued access to the UK at 12% was the second biggest issue.
Yet Isola quickly pointed out that, although there was no certainty of post-Brexit circumstances, “there are reasons –both practical and legal – why concerns may well be overblown”.
Post Brexit, Gibraltar will be an external
Gibraltar International

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