Just four years ago, the British Public cast their vote on what was set to be a life changing decision for the people of Great Britain. After 47 years of membership to the European Union, Brits decided enough was enough and claimed their stake to independence in the British Exit Vote, more popularly known as 'Brexit'.
With predicted impacts on the economy including increased inflation, increased output product price, Sterling depreciation and loss of access to the single-market, there's no doubt that Brexit has brought and continues to bring a number of challenges to UK businesses. So how exactly will Brexit affect online poker? And will players feel the impacts?
In the following article, we'll take a look at the current online poker environment and the possible impact that Brexit could have on the UK online poker industry.
Popularity of online poker in the UK
Whilst it may come as a surprise, online poker was somewhat frowned upon for most of the 20th century, with many Brits opting to stick to more classic card games such as Rummy, Cribbage and Brag. In the early 50's to 60's, poker was seen as a game that was mainly played by lower class people and was often banned from licenced casinos.
However, fast-forward to the modern day and real money poker is part of Great Britain's culture. Today's online poker scene leaves that of the mid 20th century unrecognisable, as poker tables are now found in almost all land-based casinos, as well as having a flourishing online market. Far from the days on back alleys and unlicensed venues, online poker is now highly glamorised with Television and movies helping to make the game much more mainstream.
What's more, the development on technology meant that the online poker industry was able to cash in on the swift advances of software and graphics for an enhanced user experience. Combine this with online-targeted ads, regular nationwide tournaments and glossy magazines and you'll see how the industry has managed to grow.
Whilst online poker is a flourishing market, there's no doubt that Brexit will have an effect on its success. But just how severe will this be?
How will Brexit affect the number of online poker players?
The two main factors, which will affect online poker, are gaming taxes and online poker liquidity.Let's further break this down into the main areas which could be affected
- UK Point of Consumption Tax
Whilst EU rules seemed complex enough, the UK is home to not just one but six regulatory jurisdictions that regulate online gambling.
These jurisdictions include-
- The U.K. itself through the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC)
- Gibraltar – The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority
- Alderney – Alderney Gambling Control Commission
- The Isle of Man (IoM) – Gambling Supervision Commission
- Jersey – Jersey Gambling Commission
- Guernsey – Guernsey Gambling Control Commission
The UK law insists that operators must obtain a UKGC licence and pay a 15% point of consumption tax on all their revenue from UK customers. Whilst this won't have any effects on UK based operators, international operators who serve a British client base may be in for a shock.
Will this mean that operators will no longer serve British clients? It's unlikely, however there is likely to be a certain amount of disruption as international operators navigate through this unchartered territory.
- The Currency Crisis
After the vote became final, the value of the British Pound Sterling plummeted, and whilst this may have benefitted some of our international poker-playing friends, it's certainly didn't help British players who play online poker with a European or an International provider.
So what could this mean for the online poker landscape? It could mean that Brits decide to play 'more locally' by opting to play on platforms that operate in GBP, rather than Euros, or Dollars. It also means that UK poker providers receive more online traffic from the international community as they try to snag a deal by converting their Dollars or Euros into Pounds.
What's more, this could also have an effect on the land-based poker landscape, with many Brits opting to stay local, and many foreigners opting to take a trip to the UK where there cash is worth more.
Will Brexit affect have a detriment affect on prize pots?
This is the big question on everyone's minds. Whilst Brexit will mainly affect the providers of online poker rather than the players, many players will be wondering if these consequences will trickle down to them as online poker providers try to reduce the blow.
The good news is that U.K. customers play in the same international liquidity pool as the rest of the world so have access to the largest tournament prizes available online. This is unlikely to change anytime soon as the EU will are unlikely to introduce sudden measures that would dramatically impact the online gambling market.
Whilst it can't be guaranteed that this will never change, for now we're safe.
Overall, there are going to be some rather dramatic changes to the UK economy and the UK market that will no doubt have a continued affect on British businesses, as well as international ones. However the information available suggests that these effects are more likely to be felt by the providers rather than the players.