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Corporate strategy

Expansion Plans Remain in Place Despite Brexit say Tombola but Express Concerns Over Freedom of Movement for Gibraltar Base

Tombola Brexit expansion

The Managing Director of the biggest online bingo site in the UK, Italy and Spain tell Pound Sterling Live that while currency fluctuations have had an impact they are committed to expanding the company.

Tombola is the biggest online bingo site in the UK, Italy and Spain and boasts more players than any other online bingo site.

The company has been in the bingo business for 50 years and hold an exclusivity on all of their games which are developed in-house and guaranteed not to be available on any other bingo site.

The company has a major base in Sunderland, UK, where most of its technicians, software developers and chat moderators are based.

However, Tombola’s interest in the outcome to the EU referendum will have been sizeable having already expanded into Italy in December 2011 with the launch of Tombola.it

A Spanish venture was added the following year with Tombola.es.

As Tombola outlets in Europe take payment in Euro’s, Managing Director Murray Chisholm has seen somewhat of a decrease in income streams thanks to currency fluctuations, however he remains optimistic.

“As we generate revenue in Euro’s in both the Spanish and Italian markets and convert this back to GBP the decrease in the value of the pound hasn’t been beneficial in the short-term. However – as we have been live in these markets for over 5 years, we have found that currency fluctuations tend to even themselves out,” says Chisholm.

It is worth noting that the company’s marketing budgets have not been effected by Brexit and they are still strongly committed to their UK and European markets.

With such a loyal player base across Europe, pricing for customers remains an important sticking point for Chisholm:

“Pricing and margins remain as they were before Brexit, despite an increased cost of marketing and advertising through social media bought in Euro’s.

“We remain committed to our long-term strategy and at this stage in the Brexit journey we have no intention to change our long term view. In the short-term it’s very much business as usual.

“The uncertainly that Brexit has brought as well as turbulence in the markets means that we would have been happier with a remain vote. That said we will do all we can to protect the long-term prospects of the Tombola group.”

The group operate in various legal frameworks, but with Brexit on the horizon there’s no saying what could change.

Currently Tombola is regulated by the Gambling Commission of Great Britain and Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner, which are independent and non political, and regulate gambling on behalf of the British Government and the Government of Gibraltar respectively.

However, Tombola will be checking to see if there is any differences in regulation once Brexit comes into place.

In terms of freedom of movement, Chisholm has that foremost on his radar.

Chisholm says, “we have a large number of European workers at our Sunderland office and also our Gibraltar office team is made up of a number of people who live in Spain. Any restrictions on cross border workers (Spain to Gibraltar) would have a big impact on business continuity.

“Before the referendum we were considering expansion as our strategy is to consider all emerging European markets. In the short-term this strategy remains unchanged, however, Brexit has the potential to make expansion a little more complex; time will tell.”

Chisholm is quick to reiterate that despite any Brexit negotiations Tombola are still going ahead with the expansion:

“Our plans are still very much solid and going ahead. We are very committed to expanding, in particular to recruitment and meeting the needs of expansion. We have currently got the go-ahead from Sunderland City Council to develop a £5 million office.

“And regardless of the reductions in the currency exchange, we will continue to import materials for this office from America and Copenhagen. As to whether we see any further complications arising from Brexit? Let’s wait and see.”

Risk and uncertainty are certainly not what any expanding business wants to hear but Chisholm has some sage words of advice for Theresa May and her new government. He says, “Brexit negotiations are going to be extremely complex and lengthy. My only advice would be to take time and make sure we consider all industries and in particular, to make sure we don’t forget about Gibraltar.”

For Tombola right now the concentration is getting their expansion plans underway while keeping a keen eye on how the rest of the industry reacts.

Certainly, there are legal regulations to consider but with Tombola having already created a European presence that limits the potential pitfalls somewhat.

As they have already negotiated compliance regulations with Spain and Italy, then further expansion in to Europe shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.

As Chrisholm says, “Brexit brings with it uncertainly and risk, but for us it is business as usual at Tombola and we will do all we can to ensure that it is a success.”