On Easter Sunday there was an explosion and a fire at a major Gibraltar power station which left much of the 2.3 square mile territory without power. This power outage caused massive disruption in the online gambling industry, shutting down the operations of several firms. Online gambling plays an important part of Gibraltar’s economy as because of the territory’s low taxes, many international gambling firms are based there.
According to the AFP news agency, the fire started at the Waterport Power Station when a generator caught fire and exploded due to a mechanical failure. This caused an outage in Gibtelecom services. Fortunately no-one was harmed in the incident.
Easter Sunday is a particular busy day of sport, so many customers would have been left unhappy at being unable to access their Bookmaker of choice. Major companies affected included William Hill, Betfred and Ladbrokes - William Hill services were disrupted for around two and a half hours, and around fifty staff had to be evacuated from the company’s offices. “It is just one of those freak events nobody could have predicted," company spokesperson Graham Sharpe said. "There will be those who will claim they would have backed a winner but there will be others who have been saved from backing a loser.”
Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo visited the partially destroyed power station and congratulated the fire fighters for their “extraordinary job” in containing the fire and added ““Everyone works in the same direction for Gibraltar.”
Gibraltar has a population of 30,000 and they rely on several working engines at the Waterford Power Station for electrical power, and functioning engines will restart in a matter of months. The government will award a contract for a new power station in the coming month.
Gambling on Gibraltar
Many British based Bookmakers have moved their online operations to Gibraltar and in doing so have avoided paying the higher tax rates attributed to gambling in the UK. Football, racing and poker operators are estimated to save around a quarter of a billion dollars a year in making this offshore move. Offshore betting means the gambling operators pay an effective duty of 1%, while the UK gambling duty currently stands at 15%.
William Hill and Ladbrokes are both PLC’s in the UK with hundreds of high street branches, but bets placed on their website and on phone lines are taxed and regulated in Gibraltar.