How Will Brexit Affect the UK’s Poker Players?


As a result of a Brexit referendum that took place on 23 June 2016, Britain is now scheduled to leave the European Union (EU) on 29 March 2019. According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, however, the country could be around £100 billion a year worse off than if it had stayed in the EU.

Furthermore, Brexit’s disruptive influence is likely to be felt throughout a whole range of different industries. This includes the UK’s poker scene, according to Neil Channing, an English professional poker player and author. So what impact will Brexit have on the country’s live and online poker industry?

Brexit Vote

In 2014, then Prime Minister David Cameron held a vote on whether Scotland should be an independent country. The “No” side eventually won with 55.3% of the votes, emboldening the Conservative leader to take another big gamble by holding a referendum on whether Britain should pull out of the EU.

This time around, however, the referendum resulted in 51.9% majority in favor of leaving the EU, and the country has been trying to negotiate the terms of its departure ever since. Meanwhile, spare a though for the 48.1% of British citizens who were contented with being a part of a larger union, and wanted to remain part of the institution.

Licensing Bodies Within the UK

The UK is currently home to several licensing bodies, including in Gibraltar (the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority), the Isle of Man (The Gambling Supervision Commission), and Alderney (Alderney Gambling Control Commission).

Brexit may subsequently motivate online poker websites to seek licensing in a EU based jurisdiction, such as Malta or even Ireland. This will allow them to be better integrated with EU rules and procedures. In fact, several firms have already done so. Nevertheless, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands are likely to be less affected, as they are British Crown Dependencies that have never actually been part of the EU.

Live Poker Scene Impact

The UK’s live poker scene is also likely to take a significant hit, according to Neil Channing. As he explains, poker players wishing to travel to the UK post-Brexit will be required to pay for and obtain a visa before entering the country. This is likely to deter poker players from going to all the extra trouble necessary in order take part in a weekend tournament in the UK.

In the meantime, European poker players who have moved to the UK in order to take advantage of it zero tax rate on player winnings may end up being forced out of the country. Migrant poker players from countries such as Spain, Greece, France, Scandinavia, and Portugal, for instance, will probably be unable to provide the necessary paperwork required to show that they have been residing in the UK for several years. Consequently, they may be asked to leave Britain following Brexit.

Uncertain Future

Nevertheless, Brexit continues to create a great deal of uncertainty and confusion. While British Prime Minister Theresa May has just finished negotiating a Brexit deal with the UK, many politicians have indicated that they will reject the deal when it is put to a parliament vote on 11 December.

Under the current circumstances, its no wonder that the poker industry and gaming community are still trying to fathom exactly how they will be affected after Britain finally exits the European Union. Meanwhile, Channing is doing his best to forewarn UK poker players of some of the many challenges that they are likely to face going forward, and is advising them to devise appropriate contingency plans to deal with the industry’s potentially major upheaval next year.