Sector employs 900 people on the island
The Manx eGaming Association annual report published this week reveals that the online gambling sector has continued to be a key contributor to the Isle of Man economy, employing 900 people with an average salary of more than £50,000 p.a.
The industry delivered 13.5 percent of national income in the latest 2012/13 period for which statistics are available, the publication Isle of Man Today reported, noting that the island's eGaming sector has matured and the previous rapid rate of growth has slowed, although the sector continues to make a valuable contribution to the island economy.
Association chairman John Webster predicts that, depending on how effectively the threats facing the Isle of Man are handled, the number of staff employed in e-gaming should rise by five to eight percent in 2015.
There are currently 52 gaming licensees in the island, the report reveals, observing that a number were surrendered during 2014, the result of several factors, including the introduction of UK point-of-consumption licensing, failed business plans and financing.
'Overall, there was no net increase in licence numbers from 2013-2014 and it is anticipated that, taking into account predicted new and surrendered licences, the total number will remain static in 2015,' the report advises.
The Association claims that the IOM Gambling Supervision Commission is highly regarded by the international eGaming community, but suggests the regulator's reputation must be bolstered by an understanding that licence numbers alone should not be Government's main target.
The report observes that sector growth predicted by the Association's 2014 survey appears to have been achieved and the trend of large companies dominating the sector has continued.
"On the Isle of Man a very large proportion of eGaming jobs and income is provided by a handful of large companies," the Association points out.
"Major corporate plans are closely guarded secrets, however the increasing tendency of global companies to look throughout the world for new places to locate staff and services means that there can be no room for complacency.
"Those large companies with an established presence on the Isle of Man display the greatest growth potential, both in terms of staff numbers and infrastructure investment, strong reasons for ensuring that the business and living environment on the island remains attractive to them.
"Some medium sized companies have also continued to expand with rising revenues and increased staff numbers, while start-ups and smaller enterprises have been more susceptible to the difficult business environment."
The Association goes into some detail in warning against government complacency in an international market where companies and high net worth individuals are looking for safe and cost-effective home bases, areas in which the island has excelled in terms of government policies on tax and an understanding relationship between the public and private sectors.
Giving practical recent examples of the island's ability to attract businesses, the report says this shows that "the Isle of Man is able to attract the best companies to locate here and at the same time to provide a high quality of life home for beneficial owners and their families."
Tax incentives give companies a strong reason to choose the Isle of Man as a base, "so the continuing value and need to promote the 0/10 tax regime should not be underestimated," the report claims, noting that the new UK e-gaming licensing regime has inevitably had an impact on the Isle of Man, although long-established companies would remain on the island due to its low corporate and personal taxation, and the costs of relocation.
Both government and the private sector are involved with suggestions to counter competitive threats, the report adds, and are holding constructive discussions.
"It is heartening to note there continues to be widespread agreement and cooperation between the public and private sectors; this close relationship is envied by our competitors and is one reason why the island continues to respond quickly to the changing needs of the world's business community," the Association concludes.
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