Brexit Fears Spur Bet365 to Accelerate Shift from Gibraltar to Malta
Increased fears that a “hard Brexit” will leave Bet365 without ready access to much of its European customer base has led the veteran British online-gambling site to announce the shift of much of its existing corporate operations from Gibraltar to Malta. The move will cost the company roughly €70 million to execute, and it will involve the shifting of about 1,000 jobs, or almost a fourth of Bet365’s global workforce, from Gibraltar to Malta.
The thousand or so affected Bet365 employees in Gibraltar have been offered the opportunity to move to Malta along with the company. Malta’s explosive growth into the latest online-gambling hub serving the European Union has resulted in shortages of skilled workers, meaning Bet365 would like to see as many of its workers as possible make the move.
“As part of our strategic and contingency plans to ensure EU market access and to maintain and enhance operational efficiencies, we have been building our presence in Malta and operating a dual regulatory and licensing strategy between Gibraltar and Malta for a number of years.
“However, from an operational and technical perspective and given our operating model, it has become increasingly challenging to efficiently run such multi-site operations and this has necessarily resulted in us conducting a review of our operations.
“We also continue to operate in a highly uncertain environment, driven primarily by the continuing Brexit landscape. Therefore, to assist with business planning and in order to maintain operational effectiveness, we intend to enhance our Maltese operational hub and relocate certain functionality there.”
Bet365 cited the ongoing shift of its worker base and some corporate-shareholder issues as reasons for not releasing more information at this time. The company now operated by Hillside (New Media) Ltd continues to be primarily owned by its founders, the Coates family; initial founder Denise Coates created the site in 2000. The Bet365 brand name reaches approximately 35 million customers worldwide, with the majority of that in European Union member countries that Bet365 to whom must retain market access, given the uncertainty surrounding Gibraltar, a UK territory.
Meanwhile, this latest in a series of several hits to Gibraltar’s online gambling sector prompted Gibraltar’s government to issue a statement of acknowledgement, which reads in part, “It is clear that the decisions announced by bet365 are directly related to Brexit and not to any matter otherwise related to Gibraltar.” Gibraltar’s comparatively tiny population voted strongly to Remain, but was overwhelmed by the “Leave” Brexit vote from much of Great Britain.
Bet365 remains active outside the Euro sphere as well. The company is soon to include sports betting customers in New Jersey after signing a sportsbook deal with Hard Rock Atlantic City earlier this year. That offering is expected to go live later this summer, and it will end a nearly 13-year absence for the brand from the US market. Bet365 was available for several years pre-UIGEA (meaning late 2006), as a poker-only brand on the old Prima Poker / Microgaming Poker Network.