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Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Email. info@brugesgroup.com
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
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Would Brexit Impact the Gambling Industry?

Gambling

When we hear about gambling as it relates to Brexit, it's typically regarding betting on different outcomes. Inevitably, there have in fact been betting markets these past few years aimed at predicting when Brexit might happen, what it might look like, etc. What doesn't get as much attention though is the idea of what effect Brexit could have on the actual industry within which people are betting on it. In other words, we seldom discuss the simple question: Could Brexit significantly affect the British gambling industry?

This may not seem particularly significant to some readers, and certainly there are more important concerns surrounding Brexit, whether you're for or against it. However, one 2018 article at the BBC forecasting trouble for this industry if and when Brexit comes to fruition noted that gambling activity had contributed £2.8bn to the public purse in 2017. That's a staggering number, and points to the sheer economic volume of the industry, which in turn sheds light on why its future is well worth considering.

While most everyone is aware that gambling activity exists in the UK, it has perhaps become more widespread and frequent than it seems to those who don't directly interact with it. Betting action surrounding sports is only intensifying, as newer or more obscure sports are given odds (think eSports, or competitive gaming) and new formats are invented (like real-money fantasy sports). Online casino sites have essentially perfected gaming and then some, offering selections that far exceed those of brick-and-mortar venues and quality that matches up with high-quality generic video games. And new sites dedicated to bingo, others to roulette, and still more for various other card and table games continually demonstrate comprehensive variety that goes well beyond the slot arcades that get most of the advertising attention.

Add to all of this that the tech associated with online betting and gaming practices is also improving fairly rapidly, and the scope of the industry becomes clearer. The amount quoted previously - £2.8bn in 2017 - could conceivably represent just a portion of future years' numbers if nothing were to affect or hold back the gambling markets. Whether or not Brexit will do just that is the big question, however.

Right now it's actually difficult to find any reliable or detailed projections for the gambling industry under various different Brexit outcomes. There are some negative outlooks for the video game business, and it has been suggested here or there that some UK casinos and bookmakers would lose mainland business in the event of a hard Brexit. Others still have pointed to the budding U.S. gambling market as a potential haven for UK-based companies, which doesn't necessarily speak to gambling activity's future in the UK, but suggests revenue could come in from elsewhere even if it dries up in parts of Europe. And of course, there are still some who take a more casual, Laissez-Faire perspective surrounding all things Brexit who see little to no reason for a business that operates primarily online to be affected by any of these larger changes.

Whatever may ultimately happen, this is certainly an aspect of Brexit effects worth keeping an eye on and discussing further. At this point it seems unlikely that any Brexit outcome would directly harm the industry. But with so much money at stake, this is still an issue that warrants attention. 

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Saturday, 19 October 2019
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