While influenced by a 426m-high limestone edge called the Rock of Gibraltar, Gibraltar has been a British Overseas Territory since 1711, after an intrusion by Spain. In the Middle Ages, the territory was dominated by the Moors. But, today, the country is outstanding for the Great Siege Tunnels of the eighteenth century, wild Barbary macaques, whatever is left of a Moorish Castle from the fourteenth century, the Rock. St. Michael’s Cave, the Eastern Beach, the Catalan Bay, fish and seafood restaurants and eateries, and the Europa Point Lighthouse of the nineteenth century. An addition to its numerous attractions is its huge online gambling industry and interminably regulated land gambling industry.
After World War II, the year 1947 marked the first appearance of gambling within Gibraltar. This was when the lottery – the Gibraltar Government Lottery – was introduced into the country as a fundraiser for constructing houses for the displaced Gibraltarians during the WWI and WWII. Soon, gambling grew exponentially in the country – so much that the significance and profitability of the military (which was the country’s main source of income at the time) was replaced with the ever growing gambling activities.
In 1998, the Gibraltarian government introduced and passed a gambling law which permits gambling websites to receive licenses according to their category. This makes Gibraltar one of the first countries to start giving out licenses to online gambling operators. As a result, many operators came into the country to receive a license.
Especially, since Gibraltar is on the White-List of the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, many websites are licensed in Gibraltar and allowed to offer their services to players in the United Kingdom.
With this, Gibraltar became the widely known epicenter for online gambling operators to receive a license and offer their services to more than just Gibraltarians. At the time, the Gambling Division of the GRA (Gibraltar Regulatory Authority) was in charge of the licensing and regulation of both offline and online gambling activities and facilities in the country.
Later, a new Gambling Act (or Gambling Ordinance) was passed in 2005. The Act ceded the Gambling Division to the Government of Gibraltar and a gambling commission – the Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner – was established, which operates the Gambling Division.
However, the Gibraltar Licensing Authority is the body that actually issues licenses to both online and offline gambling operators. But, the Gibraltar Licensing Authority has a strict licensing policy for both land-based and online gambling operators. For online, only “blue chip” organizations are given a chance of consideration. What this means is that the particular operator must be well-known positively and have a reputable history.
Also, there is the Cash on Hand Requirement which requires the operator to readily have an ample amount of liquid funds on hand so as to pay their players.
The amount is further determined by a series of regular evaluations and gathering of information by the Gibraltar Licensing Authority. A timely payout is another essential requirement. The Gibraltar Licensing Authority goes even more overboard by regularly asking for updates on the operator’s bank account and a yearly financial audit to keep track of the organization’s accounts.
While the laws are strict for online gambling operators, offline gambling is not as active in Gibraltar. The whole country features just two casinos. One, Casino Admiral Gibraltar, is the largest in the country and was bought by Novomatic in 2013. Historically, the casino is the first establishment to ever house a casino, sports betting shop, and bingo in a single building. The second casino is actually a cruise ship (or floating casino) known as Sunborn Gibraltar Super Yacht Hotel & Casino, a product of Sunburn Group – which has been in the floating casino game since 1998 and widely known as the pioneer of the industry. Also, Sunborn Gibraltar Super Yacht Hotel & Casino officially opened in March 2014 but the casino was added in 2015.
In 2008, a financial crisis wrecked most of the European countries’ economies. Gibraltar, strategically, graced through the crisis by empowering its gambling industry. Today, Gibraltar is generally considered the “Las Vegas of the Internet.” About 12 percent of the total population of Gibraltar is employed by gambling enterprises.
Despite the fact that Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, the country is completely independent pertaining its internal affairs. Gambling, being an internal affair, is popular in Gibraltar for the country controls its own gambling laws. However, the country is a member of the European Union, so certain regulations must be put into consideration.
As stated earlier, gambling is completely legal in Gibraltar. According to the 2005 Gambling Act, the Gibraltar Licensing Authority issues the license while the Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner regulates, audits and monitors the casino or any other gambling facility especially to ascertain the positive reputation of the operator.
There are just two casinos within the length and breadth of the country. Yet, these casinos are well-equipped with modern gaming machines and standard table games. The gambling industry is greatly tilted to the online scene, but the offline is just as astonishing.
Apparently, variety is perfectly absent when compared to the greater percentage of countries. But, luxury, comfortability, uniqueness, and efficacy are the strengths of Gibraltarian land-based casinos.
Unfortunately, diversity is unavailable in Gibraltar as the two casinos are situated in the renowned Ocean Village coast. Nevertheless, Casino Admiral Gibraltar is located in Ocean Village Marina while Sunborn Gibraltar Super Yacht Hotel & Casino is located in the Promenade region of Ocean Village.
With 12 table games, almost 200 gaming machines and a space of 35,000 square foot, Casino Admiral Gibraltar is the largest casino in Gibraltar – according to equipment and space. Apparently, Sunborn Gibraltar Super Yacht Hotel & Casino is the second largest casino in Gibraltar – with 60 gaming machines, 25 table games, and 189 rooms.
Casinos in Gibraltar are two; one is a land-based casino, while the other is a floating casino. Other than these two, there are no other gambling facilities within the country except outlets operated by the Gibraltar Government Lottery. Therefore, there are no other bingo halls, poker rooms, or sports betting shops than those found in these two casinos. Also, there are no racetracks or racinos for pari-mutuel betting in the country.
Further, both casinos include hotels – or more precisely, are added to hotels. Table games and gaming machines such as slot machines, electronic roulette, American roulette, blackjack, 3 Card poker, Cardroom poker, Texas Hold’em, Brit Brag, Sunborn Stud Poker, Punto Banco, and baccarat are commonly available.
The lottery is popular in Gibraltar and operated by the Gibraltar Government Lottery – which indicates a monopoly like other countries’. The lottery run 24 draws in 365 days, which consist of the regular 21 bi-weekly draws and three special ‘Bumper’ draws. The regular draws can award the top prize winner up to £100,000. Accordingly, the top prize for the July Bumper is £250,000, the Christmas Bumper is £500,000, and the Three Kings is £200,000.
Online gambling is the magic of Gibraltar’s gambling industry. The offline gambling sector cannot even compare with the online gambling sector. There are numerous licensees offering all sorts of gambling activities such as sports betting, casino gambling, poker, bingo, and lottery online.
Below is a list of all casinos currently operating in the regions of Gibraltar.
Casino Admiral Gibraltar (The Gibraltar Casino)
Sunborn Gibraltar Super Yacht Hotel & Casino
– Similar to the majority of countries, the minimum gambling age in Gibraltar is 18 years.
– The historic Gibraltarian hotel The Rock Hotel (built in 1932) is said to have a functional casino. However, the casino has been a non-existent facility for a number of years now.
– Casino Admiral Gibraltar opens by 10 AM every day but closes by 4 AM on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 6 AM on Fridays and Saturdays, and 5 AM on Sundays. There are two restaurants and a bar.
– There are seven types of licenses a gambling operator can apply for: bookmaker’s, betting intermediary’s, gaming operator’s, gaming machine, lottery promoter’s, pools promoter’s, and remote gambling.
– To be licensed by the Gibraltar Licensing Authority, an operator must be owned and operated by a blue-chip organization, reputable in the gambling industry, already licensed in another country, and have an effective business plan and finances. Additionally, the operator must be tested by eCOGRA, iTech Labs, Gaming Associates, GLI Europe BV (previously Technical Systems Testing), GLI Test Labs Canada ULC (previously Technical Systems Testing), NMi Metrology & Gaming Ltd, BMM Compliance, SQS India Infosystems PVT Ltd, SIQ Ljubljana, Trisigma B.V., Enex TestLabs, or Quinel M. Ltd.
– There are more than 23 enterprises and more than 125 websites licensed and regulated by the Gibraltar Licensing Authority and the Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner respectively. Popular licensees include Ladbrokes, bwin, bet365, William Hill, Betfred, and IGT.
– The 2005 Gambling Act became effective on April 1st, 2005.
– According to the 2005 Gambling Act, fixed odds betting operators and betting exchanges are taxed at 1 percent of their annual gross profit of up to £42.5 million. However, the minimum tax is £85,000 per annum.
– There are no taxes on lottery winnings and a ticket can have multiple winnings. Additionally, 77 percent of lottery players in Gibraltar win one or more prizes. This is arguably the highest in the world.
– In 2014, a new UK Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act – which introduced a new taxation system to collect taxes from gambling operators as long as they are offering their services to people in the UK – was passed. The Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (GBGA) has ever since opposed the movement and dragged the UK to the EU Court of Justice because the Act requires online gambling operators licensed in Gibraltar to be licensed in the UK as well. This way, online gambling operators licensed by the Gibraltar Licensing Authority would need to have a UK Gambling Commission license before being able to offer their services to UK players.
– In 2015, a Gibraltar Blackjack Tournament was hosted by Vegas Mobile Casino and gave the participants an opportunity to enjoy some luxurious and VIP moments at Sunborn Gibraltar Super Yacht Hotel & Casino and The Rock Hotel.
– Playtech, an international omnichannel gaming software supplier, sponsored Girls in Tech (an organization geared towards the empowerment of women in technology) in 2017 to launch a chapter in Gibraltar.
– Presently, the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority is a less-known branch of Gibraltar gambling bodies which deals with gambling complaints and disputes.
– Ever since Spain passed its own online gambling laws, the country has been conflicting with Gibraltar on issues related to online gambling. For one, Spain enforced that operators licensed in Gibraltar must also be taxed for offering their services in Spain. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is allegedly in the same pursuit as most UK gambling companies are ditching the country for Gibraltar as a result of its significantly lower tax rate.
– In 2013, Gibraltar became the very first member to join the European Gambling and Betting Association.
– In 2014, bet365 announced its plans to relocate its entire remote gambling operations from the UK to Gibraltar.
– The first Bitcoin ATM in Gibraltar was successfully installed in 2017 and supports GIP, EUR, and GBP. In 2018, a bill by the Legislature of Gibraltar and the Gibraltar Licensing Authority to protect cryptocurrency was approved. So, Bitcoin gambling is alive in Gibraltar and might soon become popular.
– The turnover of the Gibraltar Government Lottery is approximately £4.5 million.