The UK was officially set to leave the European Union on Thursday 31st October 2019. However, at the time of writing, the country is in the midst of a General Election with the earliest date of exit now earmarked for Friday 31st January 2020.
This monumental once in a lifetime political event is set to affect everyone in the UK. Brexit means changes to our finances, how we shop, consumer rights and some of the biggest industries including online gambling.
Tax Implications & An Exodus Of British Based Companies
Many of the biggest names in online gambling have set up home in the UK or overseas British territories in the last two decades. Traditionally, the UK has been the ideal base for online gambling companies as it allows them to tap into the highly lucrative British market and tax system, whilst retaining the business benefits of operating within the European Union.
Brexit will impose export tariffs and regulations on all British based businesses, even those located in places like Gibraltar and the Isle of Man. It also raises the question of higher taxes, something Gibraltar experienced in 2015 when it’s taxation rates were brought in line with mainland Britain.
Higher taxes and tougher export regulations not only increase the operating costs of British based online gambling companies, but they also increase the risk of relocation. These consequences are something that should worry consumers.
Higher operating costs are almost always passed on to the consumer as nervous company financiers look to balance the books. More infrequent bonuses, lower jackpots and shorter odds will most likely become a reality for British gamblers if higher operating costs are imposed on companies.
Relocation from major online gambling companies to more tax favourable countries will result in a less diverse British gambling market, further exacerbating the issues caused by higher operating costs.
No Deal Means New Taxes For Players
The European Union (Withdrawal) Act (No.2) 2019, or as it is more simply known The Benn Act was passed by parliament earlier this year to block a No Deal Brexit. Whilst it may have succeeded in its goal of blocking No Deal before 31st October, it may not be successful beyond the outcome of the General Election.
If the UK does indeed leave the European Union with no deal, the country would fall in line with World Trade Organisation rules. Indeed, this is not just an option restricted to no deal, falling in line with WTO rules is a key facet of many Hard Brexiteer plans.
Whilst that may or may not be a bad thing for the country in general, it would be catastrophic for the online gambling industry. The WTO has a much stricter policy on gambling than either the European Union or the UK in regards to corporate and individual taxes.
In this scenario, online gambling companies would be forced to pay higher taxes, but individuals would also face the possibility of paying taxes on their gambling winnings. In 2014, when online gambling taxes were raised from 1% to 15%, scores of companies ceased to operate in the UK.
Further increases in tax rates could potentially have a catastrophic effect on the viability of online gambling in the UK. Added to this would be the declining popularity of gambling, as more and more people would be put off gambling by the individual taxes imposed on winnings. As it stands, many established operators offer their gaming services under the laws of Gibraltar, which means online poker players don’t have to worry about paying tax on their winnings and the providers can offer players the best possible odds. Fans of online poker, and gambling in general, will be hoping this doesn’t change to dramatically in the near future.
In the immediate aftermath following the Brexit result in 2016, the Pound fell like a stone in the international currency markets. Despite repeated attempts from the Conservative government and the Bank of England to strengthen the Pound, it has still not fully recovered from the seismic events of 23rd June 2016.
The volatility of the British currency is heavily dependent on every move of Brexit, making the country a less appealing area of investment for foreign operators. However, it could be good news for overseas poker players who are now getting more Pounds for their Euros than ever before.
Large scale poker tournaments in the UK could see a significant rise in overseas player numbers, as foreign professionals look to exploit the falling pound for their own profits. Domestic players, will, of course, suffer from this as tournaments become saturated and harder to win.
This may be shortlived, however, as tougher travelling restrictions and the possible implementation of Visa’s after Brexit could make the UK a less favourable destination for poker tournament organisers.
British poker tournaments look set to change irreversibly in the near future, how that change looks, however, is hugely dependent on the outcome of the current Brexit negotiations. Poker and the rest of the British gambling industry must now wait on tenterhooks to see how Brexit truly affects it with the knowledge that, whatever the outcome, it is not going to be positive.
Airbus and Air France ordered to stand trial over 2009 crash
Air France (AIRF.PA) and Airbus (AIR.PA) should stand trial for involuntary manslaughter over their role in a 2009 crash in the Atlantic that killed 228 people, the Paris court of appeal ruled on Wednesday. (12 May)
The ruling reverses a 2019 decision not to prosecute either company over the accident, in which the pilots lost control of the Airbus A330 jet after ice blocked its airspeed sensors.
Victims' families welcomed the ruling, but Airbus and Air France said they would seek to overturn it at the Cour de Cassation, France's highest appeal court.
"The court decision that has just been announced does not reflect in any way the conclusions of the investigation," Airbus said in an emailed statement.
Air France "maintains that it committed no criminal fault at the root of this tragic accident", said a spokesman for the carrier, which is part of Air France-KLM.
Air France flight AF447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris crashed on 1 June, 2009, killing everyone on board.
French investigators found that the crew had mishandled the situation arising from the loss of speed data from sensors blocked with ice and caused an aerodynamic stall by holding the aircraft's nose too high.
The earlier decision not to go to trial drew legal challenges from the families as well as pilot unions and prosecutors who had pursued charges against Air France alone.
Wednesday's ruling upheld new demands for a trial of both companies from senior prosecutors who have accused Air France of pilot training failures and Airbus for underestimating dangers posed by known problems with the speed sensors.
Airline launches airbridge to bring relief to virus-stricken India
The airline Emirates has set up a humanitarian airbridge between Dubai and India to transport urgent medical and relief items, to support India in its fight to control the serious COVID-19 situation in the country, writes Martin Banks.
Emirates will offer cargo capacity free of charge on an “as available” basis on all of its flights to nine cities in India, to help international NGOs deliver relief supplies rapidly to where it is needed.
In the past weeks, Emirates SkyCargo has already been transporting medicines and medical equipment on scheduled and charter cargo flights to India. This latest airbridge initiative takes Emirates’ support for India and for the NGO community to the next level.
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates’ Chairman and Chief Executive, said: “India and Emirates are deeply connected, since our first flights to India in 1985. We stand with the Indian people and will do all we can to help India get back on its feet. Emirates has a lot of experience in humanitarian relief efforts, and with 95 weekly flights to 9 destinations in India, we will be offering regular and reliable widebody capacity for relief materials. The International Humanitarian City in Dubai is the largest crisis relief hub in the world and we will work closely with them to facilitate the movement of urgent medical supplies.”
The first shipment sent as part of the Emirates India humanitarian airbridge is a consignment of over 12 tons of multi-purpose tents from the World Health Organization (WHO), destined for Delhi, and coordinated by the IHC in Dubai.
Giuseppe Saba, CEO of International Humanitarian City, said: “His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid built the International Humanitarian City (IHC), so Dubai, in coordination with humanitarian agencies, would be able to assist communities and families, most in need – around the world. The creation of the humanitarian airbridge between Dubai and India, facilitated by Emirates SkyCargo, Dubai’s International Humanitarian City and UN agencies, to transport urgent medical and relief items, is another example of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s vision for the IHC, being brought to life. Last year over 1,292 shipments were dispatched from the IHC in Dubai, setting the standard for humanitarian response globally. We appreciate the great efforts by IHC’s partner Emirates SkyCargo establishing this humanitarian airbridge between Dubai and India in this time of need”.
The freight division of Emirates has a close partnership with IHC, developed over several years of delivering relief materials to communities across the world impacted by natural disasters and other crises. IHC will support Emirates SkyCargo in channelling relief efforts to India through the airbridge.
Following the Port of Beirut blasts in August 2020, Emirates also leveraged its expertise in humanitarian logistics to set up an airbridge to Lebanon to assist with relief efforts.
Emirates has led the aviation and air cargo industry in its efforts to help markets around the world combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The air cargo carrier has helped transport thousands of tonnes of urgently required PPE and other medical supplies across six continents over the last year by rapidly adapting its business model and introducing additional cargo capacity through its modified mini freighters with seats removed from Economy Class on Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft along with loading cargo on seats and in overhead bins inside passenger aircraft to transport urgently required materials.
In addition, Emirates SkyCargo has partnered with UNICEF and other entities in Dubai through the Dubai Vaccine Logistics Alliance, to transport COVID-19 vaccines rapidly to developing nations through Dubai. So far, close to 60 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been transported on Emirates’ flights, equating to nearly 1 in 20 of all COVID-19 vaccine doses administered around the world.
Through its scheduled cargo flights to close to 140 destinations across six continents, Emirates helps maintain unbroken supply chains for vital commodities such as medical supplies and food.
Europe's Digital Decade: Commission launches consultation and discussion on EU digital principles
As a follow-up to its Digital Decade Communication of 9 March, the Commission is launching a public consultation on the formulation of a set of principles to promote and uphold EU values in the digital space. A Europe fit for the Digital Age Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said: “A fair and secure digital environment that offers opportunities for all. That is our commitment. The digital principles will guide this European human-centred approach to digital and should be the reference for future action in all areas. That's why we want to hear from EU citizens.” Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: “This is Europe's Digital Decade and everyone should be empowered to benefit from digital solutions to connect, explore, work and fulfil one's ambitions, online as offline. We want to set together the digital principles on which a resilient digital economy and society will be built.”
The consultation, open until 2 September, seeks to open a wide societal debate and gather views from citizens, non-governmental and civil society organizations, businesses, administrations and all interested parties. These principles will guide the EU and membersStates in designing digital rules and regulations that deliver the benefits of digitalisation for all citizens. The contributions to the public consultation will feed into a proposal from the Commission for a joint inter-institutional declaration on Digital Principles of the European Parliament, the Council, and the Commission. The proposal is expected by the end of 2021. A press release is available online.
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