A report from E-Gaming Review published confirmed information that the United Kingdom’s Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has informed its online gambling clients from the Netherlands and Switzerland that it will no longer be able to provide services to them and that they should find another bank to carry out these transactions. An RBS spokesperson stated that this decision was necessitated because of changes in the laws of the two countries. Both Netherlands and Switzerland take a protectionist view on online gambling and have asked financial institutions operating in their restrictions not to service online gambling transactions.
There are strong rumors that the actual reason for this decision is something else. There are other European nations like Germany, Greece and Sweden that do not permit online gambling but the RBS continues to serve online gambling operators there. In the Netherlands the RBS has a merger with the Dutch banking giant ABN AMRO. In Switzerland the RBS owns a wealth management company. The RBS is aware that in case it continues to provide services to online gambling operators in those countries it could be jeopardizing those partnership operations. Hence it appears that the RBS has taken a considered decision to best protect its bottom line. However the RBS spokesperson denied that this was the case.
There are about 80 online gambling operators licensed in Alderney, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man that could be availing off financial services from the RBS. It is not known how many of these have been asked by the RBS to find another bank. It is known however that the RBS and the affected online gambling operators have come to an understanding regarding the timeframe in which the switch over will have to be made. The details of this arrangement are not in the public domain and are known only to the bank and the concerned clients.
The main competitor of the RBS for business from online gambling operators functioning in the Dutch and Swiss markets is Barclays Bank. It is clear that Barclays has no such qualms about financing the affected online gambling operators. In fact Barclays looks upon this decision by the RBS as a god sent business opportunity. It is all set to exploit this opportunity to the fullest. However Barclays is putting up a cautious public front. In an interview to E-Gaming Review a senior insider from Barclays simply said, “We are still processing online gaming transactions [from the Netherlands and Switzerland] and have not changed our policy towards the industry.” However much can be read between the lines.