Will Brexit have an impact on the Malta iGaming industry?

The possibility of a 'hard' departure could have a positive as well as dentrimental impact on the industry. Which is it most likely to be?

While it appears that we are no closer to ascertaining how the Brexit saga will eventually unfold, there is a distinct possibility that a so-called ‘Hard’ departure might have a direct impact on a number of key industries throughout the continent. 

One such example of this is Malta’s booming iGaming sector, which many believe might be affected by Brexit. 

Stricter controls for companies operating in Gibraltar 

The key reason for this is Gibraltar. Often a contentious talking point alongside the likes of the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Anguila, Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory. 

However, the fundamental difference is that Gibraltar falls within the remit of the Single Market. As such, various online gambling companies, as they do with Malta, relocate their head office to Gibraltar with the view of benefiting from more favorable tax arrangements. 

The process is nothing short of frictionless for online operators, and it essentially gives them access to the highly lucrative European iGaming space. However, with growing fears that the UK could depart the European Union, without reaching a withdrawal agreement, the party could soon be over for the Gibraltar iGaming arena. 

These issues for Gibraltar will be further amplified when one considers the logistics of its iGaming personnel. In other words, much of the workforce supporting Gibraltar-based operators make the daily commute from the more affordable territory of Spain. With a hard Brexit likely resulting in stricter border controls for UK nationals, further issues present themselves.

However, this could potentially be good news for the Malta iGaming space. Gibraltar is often regarded as a direct competitor of Malta in the gambling sector, and thus, should the British Overseas Territory encounter the full effects of a hard Brexit, it could benefit Malta greatly according to UK focused gambling website Slotbettors.

UK gambling companies already stationed in Malta

On the other hand, some commenters from within the industry argue that a hard Brexit could also have a detrimental effect on the Maltese iGaming arena. A significant number of UK operators are stationed in Malta, bringing much of their workforce with them. The seamless process of relocating from the UK has always been of great interest to British-based gambling companies, not least because it offers a more business-friendly environment, and perhaps, more importantly - a more tax-efficient framework.

Although Joseph Muscat has already made his stance clear on the special status of UK nationals living in Malta in a post-Brexit world, it remains to be seen how its departure will impact UK companies stationed here. If the UK is forced to transition over World Trade Organisation terms, and thus, no longer have frictionless access to the Single Market, this could present a range of problems for UK operators. 

What will the future hold?

Ultimately, there are just too many uncertainties surrounding Brexit to ascertain which way the saga will go. The UK is currently involved in replacing the recently departed Theresa May, meaning Brexit negotiations have once again been put to a stand-still.

Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how the Maltese iGaming space will be affected once the true path of Brexit has been determined. Will it benefit from a hard departure, or will it go the other way?