Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
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.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

How Can The UK Become a Worldwide Leader For The Online Gambling Industry


The online gambling industry is in a tricky situation across the world. Each one of the United States is coming up with its own set of regulations, the EU never had a centralised regulatory institution across the continent, and Asia doesn't look at gambling with a good eye either.

Currently, online gambling operators settle in the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, Curacao, Malta and Gibraltar. Whilst these destinations may offer some tax incentives, they are not that much more permissive than the framework currently setup by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), our national authority since 2007, responsible for overseeing sports betting, land-based and digital casinos, slot machines, as well as lotteries and other poker rooms.

The advantage the United Kingdom has over its neighbours is how familiar gambling is in our culture. It's not a new practice on the island, and many of our British gambling brands are worth billions. For instance, it was recently revealed that the CEO of one of these gambling groups earned an annual salary of £421m. Whilst these numbers are astronomical, they also reveal the sheer scale of the British gambling industry – probably the biggest digital landscape in the world right now.

UK Must Be The World's Leading Talent Pool To Supply a Growing Gambling Ecosystem

Whilst online casino operators are massive whales, they are accompanied by a massive ecosystem from software companies, to legal and technical auditors, marketers, and casino game developers. Following Brexit, Gibraltar is going through a talent drain as a big party of its pool crosses the Spanish border daily to work. Nowadays, Gibraltar and Malta still attract great profiles with London lagging a little behind mostly due to the employers being headquartered abroad. In the near future, there is no reason why the United Kingdom should not become the uncontested supplier of talented individuals and companies willing to devote their careers to the excellence required in the tough industry of online gambling.

Having a powerful gambling capital will help fighting the soon-to-come North American behemoths once more American states legalise online sports betting. Many local casino operators (e.g., Wynn, MGM) are getting ready to invest uncountable amounts of money in order to take over the World of gambling, quite literally.

Stuart Lee, from the leading online casino review site betandbeat, explained how "the UK as a whole is best-placed to attract the most-qualified talent from across the globe when it comes to gambling expertise and that is true for all positions, from tech innovation to marketing genius and unrivalled corporate governance and financial expertise".

The Next Regulatory Steps

Culturally, sports betting and online slots are very much accepted by most Britons. Yet, it becomes an increasing requirement for the regulatory body to restrain the overall marketing machine that the industry is using to push its online platforms. Turn on the TV after 10pm, or watch any football match, and you will be exposed to betting, bingo, and slots. Whilst this is fine for adults, it may be more delicate or live sports which attract a younger audience that needs protection from problem gambling.

After the Football Index scandal, it is expected that the Gambling Commission initiates a thorough review of the current laws, regulations, and guidelines. Some additional safeguards could be recommended, but they may prove to be insufficient in a digital world in which tech giants are setting their own rules.

Moreover, the gambling industry is of course composed of legitimate online casinos, but there is a plethora of poker, betting, and casino affiliates websites that are operating in somewhat of a legal wild west. As of today, the burden is on the casinos to vet and run KYC checks on these affiliate partners, but across the Atlantic, New Jersey and other states have relieved online casino sites from this burden and instead created a centralised affiliate license.

UK As An Example Of Gambling Legal Framework

British gambling companies are leaders abroad, too. The EU would lose a lot by deciding to punish these behemoths with no solid foundation. However, the UK has a massive upside in keeping its gambling legal framework stable and clear. The UKGC does a wonderful job at being transparent and close to all parties involved. This is in clear opposition with other European countries in which the stance against gambling operators has soured over the last few years.

Germany, for instance, saw all of its sixteen federal states pass a Gambling Treaty to allow online sports betting in its own regulated market. Yet, years of legal uncertainty ensued and since then, not a single betting license has been issued.

The government's Review of the Gambling Act was launched by the Culture Secretary to go ahead with a comprehensive assessment of existing gambling laws in order to confirm their fitness for today's digital landscape, across all devices and means of gambling consumption.

And whilst a review was long overdue, it is important to reassure –without giving in to– online gambling operators about what's to come. Online slots, online betting, online poker, all of these are about to enter a massive worldwide land grab and the UK has all the cards in its hands to take the biggest slice of that pie. But without any doubt, this is an epic winner-takes-all showdown and we're still in pole position to win it. 

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Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
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Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames