Brexit: everyone’s talking about it. When it comes to igaming, there’s been much speculation about the potential impact of the UK’s departure from the EU. It's a highly charged issue given that the overall gaming industry contributes around £2bn annually to the UK economy. Among concerns around regulatory challenges, taxation, and liquidity, there’s a worry that Brexit, especially a no-deal scenario, will worsen the talent shortage in the UK igaming sector. To illustrate the scale of this, about 30% of employees in the UK's overall gaming sector are EU nationals.
As the leading recruitment agency for the igaming sector, Pentasia has been party to many of these discussions. The reality is that although Brexit could enhance existing talent challenges, the risks are often overplayed. In fact, the feeling we’re getting from clients and candidates is overwhelmingly one of apathy (perhaps it’s because gaming professionals are used to the slow and often unpredictable nature of regulation and negotiation).
To help our clients and candidates, we’ve summarised the key areas that could be affected by Brexit.
EU citizens working in the UK igaming sector
Many EU workers in the UK are becoming increasingly nervous about the impending Brexit deadline. Since passing the 5 year residency milestone is a key goal for many EU workers, many that might have been open to moving around are erring on the side of caution and staying put in the hope that it may strengthen their position should they want to settle in the UK.
Candidates considering moving to the UK
There’s a concern that EU nationals might be put off from applying to UK jobs due to uncertainty about visa requirements and their long-term status, meaning the industry could ultimately suffer a severe talent shortage. At Pentasia we have encountered some reluctance from candidates considering a move to the UK. Despite that, the UK and especially London still retains its status as a hub for innovation, attracting candidates from all over the world. So overall, we haven’t seen a significant decrease in the interest to work in the UK even as the all-important date approaches.
UK expats abroad
There are many Brits among the iGaming industry’s large and disparate expat population, and we’ve found that although many are somewhat frustrated by the uncertainty, few are actively concerned about their position, preferring to take a more pragmatic view. It seems that particularly amongst senior candidates who have been living abroad for some years, British expats see no reason to start making changes to their current work or location arrangements.
iGaming companies in the UK
Like every other digital industry, iGaming companies in the UK are suffering from a shortage of technical talent, with Brexit being only one contributing factor. We’ve found most are preoccupied with general hiring challenges and few, if any, employers are actively adapting their workforce plans due to Brexit. Having said that, smaller firms in the UK may be more at risk, since they have less resource to sponsor overseas candidates, are unable to transfer people from other offices, and less brand awareness to attract talent.
iGaming hubs abroad
While Malta’s diverse workforce and wide market exposure means it’s relatively insulated from any effects of Brexit, Gibraltar is a different story. There’s a risk that worsening conditions at the border crossing, used daily by 13,000 Spanish, British and other workers, could have a real impact on the iGaming industry there. We’ve heard this worry from many candidates, despite Gibraltar continuing to be an attractive place to work for igaming professionals.
So what changes, if any, do iGaming companies need to make to their talent strategy due to Brexit?
Like virtually every other digital industry, iGaming companies in the UK are suffering from a shortage of technical talent, and Brexit is just one factor in this. Developers and IT specialists are highly sought after and will likely have their pick of attractive job opportunities.
Amongst Brexit uncertainty, the best bet for iGaming companies is simply to employ sensible talent strategies to source excellent candidates, and then hire them promptly. Gaming companies need offer an attractive working environment, including a competitive salary as well as flexible or remote working. They should also review their interview process to hire more efficiently.
At Pentasia we’re working with clients across the industry to build stronger tech talent pipelines including from outside the EU (such as South America and India). Brexit may be a headache for hiring managers, but with employers already looking beyond the UK and the EU, this is just one part of the overall picture.