It’s a question that many Britons have been asking themselves ever since 52% of the people voted to leave the European Union in the referendum held over there on June 23rd 2016. Now, a year later, negotiations have begun between the UK Government and the 27 member states of the EU and, so far, it’s not much clearer. One thing is for certain, though: it will have an effect that’s going to reach far beyond just Europe
Firstly, there are the most obvious effects and these concern the overall economy. While it’s not certain, it’s likely that the trade deals that the UK has with its European neighbours will no longer apply after Brexit so the British will be looking to strike new agreements with other countries around the world, including Canada.
Alongside this, the benefits that many non-European companies currently enjoy by having their headquarters in the UK (and qualifying for the sort of EU tax and regulatory breaks this includes) may well come to an end. If this is the case, then many of these companies may well be looking for a new European home and this includes a number of Canadian organisations who are closely linked to the UK economy.
While these are reasonably obvious ramifications of the UK splitting from the EU, there is another, more surprising group of Canadians who could also feel the effects once the final split occurs – visitors to online casinos headquartered in the EU.
This is because, for tax reasons, many of the world’s largest online casinos are licensed in Gibraltar, a small, rocky island just off the southern coast of Spain. While it is currently under British rule, the Spanish dispute ownership. To give a quick history lesson, it was captured by an Anglo-Dutch fleet in the War of Spanish Succession in 1704 and was handed to the British in the Treaty of Utrecht, which was signed in 1713.
Now, over 300 years later, Spain still has a claim to the land even though two referendums were held in 1967 and 2002 in which Gibraltarians rejected proposals for Spanish sovereignty by a large majority.
This still rankles with the Spanish so there is a good chance that they will use Brexit as an excuse to make life as difficult as possible for any UK-based online casinos operating there. For Canada, one of the key operators that may be affected is Party Casino who, despite being owned by GVC Holdings PLC, the world’s largest online gaming company, could face a number of issues. For example, many of their staff live on mainland Spain but commute to Gibraltar to work. Currently, there’s free passage but, if the Spanish insist on introducing a hard border, this will cause huge daily disruption.
Whether or not this will mean that the company has to move to a less tax-advantageous location remains to be seen. But, if they do, then the additional overheads could mean the end of players’ ability to claim the Party Casino bonus that has been so popular with players to date. Party Casino is particularly popular with Canadians, as it’s regarded as one of the most well-regulated websites catering to the North American market.
Right now, it’s very early days in the negotiations so everything is still speculation; there is even internal disagreement within the UK government about what kind of Brexit they want. But, as the months unfold, the picture will gradually become clearer, Only then will we really start to get a proper picture of what effect it’s going to have on both sides of the Atlantic.