The shadow of Brexit threatens Gibraltar

Within the galleries of his Rock, the British enclave of Gibraltar hides a precious treasure: the servers of the gambling industry, its biggest source of income that hopes to keep after the Brexit.

The shadow of Brexit threatens Gibraltar
The shadow of Brexit threatens Gibraltar

The big game operators that have their computers installed in Continent8 or the other two dat centers in Gibraltar are a strategic asset for the 33,000 inhabitants of the Rock. The sector accounts for 25% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the colony, more than any other activity.

Alberto Isola explains: from the outset, our philosophy has been to accept only societies of the highest level, which is to say that they operate physically in Gibraltar and are subject to strict regulation, to prevent money laundering and to protect minors. Currently only 30 companies have a license for online games, while in Malta there are hundreds, here you can see the difference.

The Brexit Challenge-

But if Gibraltar attracts so much is also by the possibility of going and coming back from Spain, where life is cheaper.

“We probably would not have grown so much if we did not have this country by the side,” admits Peter Montegriffo, a lawyer who has helped set up several companies in the sector. But he added, faced with the challenge of Brexit, “the biggest concern is to see how the border will work.”

Following the decision of the British people on June 23, 2016, to leave the EU, Spain renewed its claim on this territory, which ceded perpetually to the English crown in 1713. Thus the Gibraltarians fear problems and queues in the border, as occurs episodically in periods of tension between London and Madrid.

In these sense Montegriffo adds: “We do not believe that democratic Spain uses the border as a weapon, as it did 45 years ago.”

Lottoland, one of the world’ leading online lottery companies, has already taken steps to ensure its 200 employees in Gibraltar can work from home if needed.

The Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels have started and whatever terms are eventually agreed will also have an impact on the sector.

This industry is very oriented to the British market and more and more societies have taken advantage of its implantation in Gibraltar to obtain licenses in other European countries like Spain. So if the EU decides that to preserve these licenses an operator must have its servers within the Union, the UK could say that then they could not be based in Malta and access the British market.

On the other hand, others more positive suggest that they do not believe Brexit has much impact on the possibility of offering British services in the EU, beyond having to move a server or some employees, and in any case, reiterate their desire to stay in Gibraltar where their house has always been.

On his behalf King Felipe VI, six days ago and as a gesture of good will, calls for dialogue on Gibraltar in the British parliament,  he is fully confident that the necessary dialogue and the efforts of both Governments will be able to advance in the search for formulas satisfactory to all.

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