GBGA: “Our members would like to see an updated gambling regime in Gibraltar that strikes the right balance”

Amidst the shifts and evolution within the gambling industry, Nicholas Macias, Secretary General of the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (GBGA), in an interview with Yogonet offers insights into the organization’s role and the sector’s experiences throughout 2023. The year marked another phase of legal and regulatory alterations, characterized by consultations and impending changes.

For GBGA, serving as a key interlocutor between authorities and industry members has been instrumental. Their role revolves around facilitating a unified industry stance amid regulatory changes. By organizing forums and discussions, GBGA enables industry stakeholders to dissect and deliberate on these changes collectively, aiding members in crafting their individual positions. This role seems more important now than ever, with a new Gambling Act in place.

Based on the feedback you’ve received from the companies that are part of the GBGA, and talks with other associations and authorities, what is your assessment of 2023 for the gambling industry, and which role did the GBGA play within this context?

It’s been another year of legal and regulatory change, of consultation on these changes, and on, occasions, knowing that there are upcoming changes, but the formal consultation process has yet to begin.

There is, of course, a willingness amongst the industry to have a say in these changes, and a willingness amongst the authorities carrying out the changes to engage and obtain feedback from the industry, and the trade associations, such as ours, act as the interlocutor in these situations. 

We coordinate and provide a forum for the industry to come together and discuss these changes to find and present a common industry position, and in the process help our members develop their own individual positions. We arrange for the authorities carrying out these changes to join us and the industry around the table to discuss these changes and understand each other as well as we can.

We are also a key and often main source of information on these changes (and any other matters of interest to the industry) because of the work that we do and the connections that we have across the industry and amongst authorities.

How is the GBGA assisting the Gibraltar gambling industry in understanding and adapting to the new Gambling Act? What are the main challenges these changes introduce?

As explained above, we play the role of an interlocutor here. As part of this role, we’ve provided GBGA responses to the initial phases of the consultation and we’ll continue to provide GBGA responses as the consultation process develops. 

This, of course, is the collective response of all our members and for it to be a collective response, we need to hear from them and know what they would like us to include and omit in our responses

We do this through regular engagement with them, and organizing and leading meetings, events, sessions, etc. which bring all our members together round the table and where we discuss, debate, and come to common positions (where we can) on the various draft provisions.

We have a very detailed understanding and a unique experience of the existing requirements, and their origins, and we therefore have a very good understanding of the rationale for and origins of the draft provisions and what these intend.  We can therefore provide valuable context to the conversation amongst our members to help them understand the provisions being consulted on.

We also meet with the Gambling Commissioner regularly, and we periodically meet with Gibraltar’s Minister with responsibility for gambling, and with the policy makers involved in the drafting of the new Act. This allows us to provide them with industry feedback on an ongoing basis and, in the process, obtain feedback and information from them which we would then pass on to our Members.

We’ve already fed back urging caution on the use of any provisions in the new law which are derived from financial services legislation as these would not be a good and direct fit for the gambling industry and would pose significant implementation problems for both the industry and the Gambling Commissioner.  

We are also keen to know more and have a say on the transition period which will be a key period and we need to be clear on what this would look like.

As you project into 2024, what do you foresee as the primary focus areas or priorities for the GBGA to further empower and assist its members? Which do you anticipate will be the main issues driving next year’s agenda?

Our members would like to see an updated legal, licensing, and regulatory regime in Gibraltar that strikes the right balance between regulation and their responsible commercial interests. They’ve also a strong interest, as have all parties and people in Gibraltar and the neighboring area in Spain, in the Brexit negotiations regarding Gibraltar that are currently taking place.  

Therefore, our primary focus areas remain the new Act, licensing regime, and codes of practice, and the Gibraltar Brexit treaty, especially as the outcomes of these areas will determine the changed playing field for our members for years to come.

Saying this, we are home to members with multiple licenses in other jurisdictions, and we therefore naturally consider international developments and not just local ones. We monitor international developments and retain strong and ongoing lines of communication with our fellow trade associations in other jurisdictions, and we are on hand to work together with them if it drives benefit for them and the members that we have in common.