Will Brexit Have an Impact on Poker Players?3 years ago
The highly emotional debate in Great Britain about whether or not to remain a member of the European Union (EU) was one of the most bitter political fights in recent memory. But even though each side of the “Brexit” argument threw just about everything they could think of outside of the kitchen sink at one another, there was little talk about what the decision would mean for online poker. However, the question is an important one for poker players and room operators alike.
The UK is a hotbed for online poker - not only does it host one of the world’s most enthusiastic players pools, it’s also home to a lot of the world’s leading gaming regulators. So what will it mean for poker players now that the UK has decided to leave? Although no one can know for sure, it’s clear that the possibility for the decision to reverberate throughout the poker world definitely exists. Below is a breakdown of how the decision will affect three of the most important aspects of the online poker community: liquidity, taxes, and regulation.
The ability for players to access the global player pool is a key concern for both UK players who want access to bigger games, and the ROW players who want to keep player pools as large as possible to encourage and increase action.
Fortunately, it’s highly unlikely that the the decision to leave the EU will have a negative impact on global online poker liquidity. For starters, the UK leaving the European Union does not, in and of itself, change anything. EU law has a special carveout for gaming policy that largely exempts its member states from rigid adhesion to the principles of the common European market that apply in other industries. This is the reason why - as poker players are all too aware - that individual EU countries such as France can choose to have their online poker market ring fenced, even from the player pool in other EU member states.
Bottom line, the decision to allow UK players access to the global player pool was - and will continue to be - a decision for the UK to make. So, unless there is a shift in UK policy (which, given its gambler friendly policies, seems unlikely) liquidity will not be affected.
Taxation has a direct effect on the ability of players to play the game profitably, and so it’s only natural that the effect of Brexit on online poker taxation is another major concern within the community. However, it’s important to remember that the UK already imposes a 15% “point of consumption tax” on its players that has nothing to do with it being a part of the EU. Although the Brexit debate focused largely on the balance of power between the EU and its member states, there is no doubt that the EU does not have the ability to directly tax citizens. Therefore, here to it seems as if little will change.
As stated above, gaming is an area of policy where EU member states are not required to strictly adhere to the principles of the common market. Therefore, the UK’s departure will most likely have zero effect on online poker regulation there. However, the same might not be true for the remaining members of the EU. Although EU doesn’t set gaming policy for the member states, the member countries do tend to work very closely on the issues that affect any given sector.
In that respect, the UK - with its own tradition of favorable gaming regulation - was a solid voice in the conversation that could help guide decision making in other states. With that voice now gone, it’s unclear if the thinking of regulators in countries currently considering deregulation of their online poker market - such as the rumored proposal for shared liquidity between France and Spain - will be impacted.
Uncertainty is the word of the day
In the short term, there will be no change to the online poker landscape. But moving forward, the effects of Brexit are a huge unknown across the board. Long term, the UK needs to formally request an exit from the EU (something which current British Prime Minister David Cameron has said will not happen until at least October) before negotiating a withdrawal. That means we won’t know anything until at least then. More realistically, it could be years before we know the full effect - if any - of Brexit on online poker.
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