According to a report in Sunday’s Times of Malta, bet365 are finalising plans to move a substantial part of their business from Gibraltar to Malta.
Those plans include the acquisition of a €70 million commercial property in Sliema (promise of sale agreement apparently already signed), and the relocation of 1,000 staff from their current Gibraltar operation, as soon as Brexit materialises.
It was less than 4 years ago that bet365 decided to make Gibraltar the licensing hub their entire online gambling business. That was before the Brexit vote and the looming prospect of Gibraltar being dragged out of the EU … making their online gambling licenses pretty worthless.
Malta of course are still very much in the EU, and there is no prospect of this changing any time soon. Combined with a long established I-gaming regulatory history and low taxes they become are an obvious alternative for operators currently licensed in Gibraltar or the Isle of Man looking for certainly when it comes to future access to the EU single market.
Last year Paddy Power Betfair left Gibraltar (a much smaller move) and the local government went into damage control mode, saying it was not the start of a Brexit induced mass exodus. If the bet365 relocation does happen it will be a much bigger blow, but Minister for Financial Services and Gaming Albert Isola, is outwardly hopeful that it won’t. His response to the Times’ report included the following statements:
“Bet365 have confirmed directly to us that they remain totally committed to Gibraltar and the entirety of it’s workforce here. They are not leaving Gibraltar by any stretch of the imagination.
We, nonetheless, understand that business needs certainty and has to manage risk. There is no single risk management solution here as the issues are complex.”
Irrespective of whether the relocation happens, bet365 will remain headquartered in Stoke-on-Trent.