Gibraltar is ready to reform gambling law. So how exactly?

About the expert: He is a partner at the 4H Agency. As an employee of international law firms, he dealt with gambling issues in Eastern Europe. Now he is focused on a wider range of international tasks. At 4H, Ivan advises clients on various aspects of the business, with a particular focus on licensing compliance, AML and gambling advertising.

This week and we are going to talk about another country that is looking to make changes in the regulation of the gambling business. Today, it is Gibraltar.

What is Gibraltar famous for when it comes to our beloved industry? At first glance, it appears that Gibraltar (regardless of the type of activity) is often chosen as a jurisdiction for operation due to more comfortable tax rules and the ease of administering companies registered there.

At the same time Gibraltar has also become a home to the holders of various gambling licenses from large to not so large operators. In particular, this may among other things, be explained by the fact that gambling legislation is largely based on the UK gambling law, which is often seen as a template to tbe used around the world. 

Apparently, the historical connection between Gibraltar and the UK matters, and the latest discussions on the reform of gambling laws in the UK have crossed the European continent to reach Gibraltar. At the same time, of course, the narrative of reforming the gambling legislation still differs from place to place when it comes to the details.

What are the proposals? In Gibraltar, it is proposed to significantly change the current gambling legislation, supplementing it with the following key provisions:

  • It is proposed to establish more strict requirements for the creation of a so-called "presence" in Gibraltar. This proposal is not surprising, since Gibraltar has often been used as a place for the creation of holding companies and other forms of ownership for the purpose of reducing the tax burden, and the state accordingly wants to have more real companies with a full presence in Gibraltar.

At the same time, it is very important that the requirements for such a presence should exist within reasonable limits, without creating significant difficulties for the operation (for example, if it is decided that the servers of the operators can be located exclusively in the territory of Gibraltar, this can significantly increase the financial burden on the operators, making it impractical to continue operating under a local license in Gibraltar);

  • Increasing the number of licensed activities. It is worth noting that this is an extremely reasonable approach that will encompass all the complex elements of the gambling business with a huge number of stakeholders in the process. Plus, no doubt, an increase in the number of licensed activities will allow the State to both to increase control over the industry and increase the collection of taxes and other mandatory fees.

  • It is proposed to create an obligation on operators to seek approval from the regulator when hiring key personnel. This proposal is not something unique. At least in the UK and the Netherlands there is a prerequisite for obtaining an operating license and that is obtaining approval from the regulator regarding the qualifications of employees for key managerial positions (for example, personal licenses that someone is ‘fit and proper’).

In general, it is worth noting that it is obvious Gibraltar will try to follow the path of the UK (due to the similarity of legal systems and other regulations) by making the legislation more attractive to new operators - the number of licenses issued in the UK, the transparency of the regulator's work and the share of offshore operations. This would seem to indicate the United Kingdom is making some correct decisions regarding the future regulation of the gambling business.

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