Major online casino and betting firm 888 Holdings has revealed a potential change of heart regarding one of its current jurisdictions. The company is currently scoping out alternatives to the prominent gambling hub of Gibraltar for its centre of operations. 888 has voiced concerns that ‘The Rock’, its Gibraltar-based business centre, could be affected negatively by the Brexit movement. The FTSE250 company was one of the first iGaming industry stakeholders to recognise Brexit’s potential as a very real future risk to its online gambling and betting operations. In 888’s annual financial report last year, the firm noted that the licensing remit in Gibraltar remains for the most part unclear, especially regarding its stance on companies’ compliance with iGaming jurisdictions across Europe.
Itai Frieberger, the CEO of 888 Holdings, also mentioned in March this year that a key dynamic of his business’s performance was general growth within regulated European gambling markets. 888’s presence in these markets would be the primary factor fuelling the company’s corporate strategies in the future, he noted. Considering this, it seems that a Remote Gambling License from Gibraltar may not be sufficient to fuel 888’s regulatory and expansion strategies. Many EU member states could soon change their views on Gibraltar’s regulations and consider them disqualified once the UK has officially broken away from the European Union.
In January of 2016, the UK and Gibraltar were ruled to be considered a single legal entity with regard to their freedom of service provision by the European Court of Justice. Bearing this in mind, it seems unlikely that the EU will restrict Gibraltar’s access to the overall European iGaming market. 888’s annual report for last year further explained that Gibraltar’s potential status in relation to that of the UK due to Brexit was, at the time, uncertain. The report noted that if 888 were to continue operating as a licensed and registered entity in the jurisdiction, it would be limited in its capacity to rely on the EU freedom of service provision rule when offering services to European markets. Regardless, Gibraltar’s full EU membership and favourably low taxes still make it a favourite regulatory territory for many major online betting companies, including GVC Holdings, 32Red, and BetVictor.