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Gaming group moves servers ahead of Brexit, but no changes to Gib HQ

Sports betting and gaming group GVC will relocate servers hosting internet gambling platforms to Ireland ahead of Brexit, but will keep its online headquarters in Gibraltar and predicts little impact on staff numbers here.

The group, which owns Ladbrokes, set out its Brexit contingency plans as it reported a 9% increase in net gaming revenue and total revenue, which rose to £3.57bn and £3.52bn respectively in 2018.

GVC also reported “very strong growth” in online and a 16% jump in European retail sales, although UK retail sales fell 3%.

With an eye on the EU online market, the said its companies offering gambling products to customers in the bloc would need to be established and licensed in the EU after the UK and Gibraltar left on March 29.

Likewise some EU countries require servers hosting online gambling platforms to be located in an EU member state.

“In order to satisfy these requirements, the Group has implemented plans - or, where the timescale allows, has prepared detailed plans that are ready to implement - that involve operating those parts of our business which have customers in the EU under Malta online gambling licenses, and locating servers hosting our online gambling platform in the Republic of Ireland,” GVC said yesterday in a results statement.

“Our online businesses will continue to be headquartered in Gibraltar and these plans will not have a significant impact on the number of our employees in Gibraltar.”

“Finally, the Group has made practical contingency arrangements to help employees who live in Spain but work in Gibraltar should there be a significant increase in delays crossing Gibraltar's border with Spain after Brexit.”

Other gaming companies in Gibraltar are also putting in similar contingency measures ahead of the Brexit deadline at the end of the month.

One of those is William Hill, which has around 400 staff in Gibraltar including financial managers, compliance officers and programmers, most of whom commute from Spain.

The companies say the threat that Brexit will choke the border has forced them to invest in improved remote office technology and find ways for employees to fill in for colleagues who can’t get to work.

“It could take a lot of time to get across if the Spanish decide to put in place detailed passport checks and other checks,” William Hill Chief Executive Officer Philip Bowcock told the Bloomberg news service yesterday.

“If that happens then that becomes a problem -- but we obviously have business protection plans in place.”

In another development this week, lottery betting operator Lottoland reiterated its commitment to Gibraltar, its current base of operations, despite successfully applying for two Malta licences.

Lottoland has been awarded two Type 1 gaming services licences for its Lottoland Europe Ltd subsidiary by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA).

The development prompted speculation that Lottoland could make Malta its main base against the backdrop of Brexit.

But Lottoland CEO Nigel Birrell told the specialist publication iGaming Business that the company had no plans to move from the Rock.

“Gibraltar is our home and we have no plans for this to change,” he told the publication.

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