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The ongoing shift of online gambling firms’ operations from Gibraltar to Malta continues this week with the announcement by veteran British firm Bet365 that it is shifting a large section of its corporate operations in Gibraltar to its newer offices in Malta.
Bet365 opened its Malta office in 2015 as a hedge against the possibility that the ongoing Brexit movement in the United Kingdom could become reality and jeopardize the firm’s Gibraltar hub, given the ongoing uncertainty that Gibraltar, a UK protectorate, will maintain full EU market access once the Brexit is complete.
Now, Bet365 has decided the time is ripe to shift more seriously to Malta, moving approximately 1,000 jobs to Malta in a move that the company estimates will cost €70 million. Affected employees at Bet365’s Gibraltar hub, which will remain in use but in a drastically reduced manner, have been offered the chance to relocate to Malta as part of the move.
Bet365 issued a brief corporate statement about the move but has declined to comment further. The statement reads as follows:
“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.”
In cutting off comment there, a Bet365 spokesman noted that the employee transitions and certain shareholder processes are ongoing.
As expected, the governments of Gibraltar and Malta sounded contrasting notes of mourning and joy over Bet365’s planned shift. The government of Gibraltar issued an official statement acknowledging the loss, while blaming it wholly on Brexit influences:
“Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar notes the statement from bet365 today.
“The Government has worked very constructively with bet365 on the issues that have led to the decisions that company has announced today and to mitigate the effects on Gibraltar.
“It is clear that the decisions announced by bet365 are directly related to Brexit and not to any matter otherwise related to Gibraltar.
“The Government will continue to work with bet365 through its period of staff consultation and rationalisation in order to seek to ensure that the footprint of bet365 in Gibraltar remains substantial.
“Gibraltar remains the best jurisdiction in the world from which to do well regulated, reputable online gaming business – and is the only jurisdiction guaranteed access to the United Kingdom market in online gaming going forward.”
Meanwhile, Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Jr Minister for Fin Services, Dig. Econ. & Innovation Silvio Schembri, one of the key figures in Malta becoming a European gambling hub, issued congratulations to Bet365 on social media. The move is expected to at least double the size of Bet365’s presence in Malta over what was envisioned just a few years ago. Bet365’s customers are expected to notice little or no disruption as the shift in operations occurs.
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