The European Union has expressed support for Gibraltar’s gaming industry and has promised to not target it after the territory recently came under attack by a European Parliament member.
The scrutiny came last month from Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella, who challenged the commission on whether Gibraltar’s gaming industry should be part of a tax crackdown it has been undertaking. Mr Tarabella stated that Gibraltar’s appeal to gambling operators were due to tax concessions offered by the island’s government.
Mr Tarabella’s queries and views were reviewed by the EU and it disagreed with any claims that Gibraltar and its gaming industry needed to be part of any tax crackdown spearheaded by the entity.
European Commissioner for Taxation, Algirdas Semeta, expressed his support for Gibraltar as well as his belief that it has been and continues to follow EU regulations. “EU member states can establish the tax regimes they see fit, if they comply with EU law,” he said.
Mr Semeta also said the EU and the European Commission would not investigate the economic impact of Gibraltar-based gaming companies or the impact they have on the European job market.
A number of online poker and other gaming companies are based in Gibraltar and the British Overseas Territory is known in the gaming industry for this. Bwin.party Digital Entertainment, 888, Mansion have their headquarters on the land known as ‘The Rock’, while Ladbrokes, Party Gaming and Victor Chandler employ a combined total of approximately 2,300 staff on the island.
The statements by the EU are set to be a relief to the territory of around 30,000, whose gaming industry plays a large role in the economy. While any investigation would not have automatically shut down any gaming operators, there may have been the possibility of some companies moving their business out of Gibraltar due to the unneeded and annoying scrutiny.
Luckily for Gibraltar, that will not happen and it has avoided a situation that could have been similar to that of Antigua, where a number of companies left the country after Black Friday.
Any action taken to shut down or drastically alter Gibraltar’s gaming industry would have likely done little other than adversely affect Gibraltar’s economy. In the worst case scenario, gaming companies would have moved their headquarters to another area (such as, perhaps, nearby Malta) and continued their business with relatively little interruption.
Other EU nations whose players undertake real-money gaming on Gibraltar-based services would likely have not seen much benefit if this happened. The “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” view of the EU and the European Commission was the right view to take in this circumstance.