Spanish Authorities Respond

Spanish Authorities Respond to Growing Online Casino Market

Spanish Authorities Respond to Growing Online Casino MarketEveryone loves a flutter, and the growth of the internet since the turn of the millennium has seen the online gaming and casino market flourish into a $36 billion dollar industry – and one that is set to almost double over the next three years.

Naturally enough, with growth comes an increase in regulatory attention and government legislation, particularly when it concerns an industry that can be so emotive.

Of course, the nature of this regulation varies from one country to another, and this creates an interesting dynamic.

Online businesses can potentially draw a customer base from anywhere on the planet. From a regulatory perspective, it is therefore far easier to focus on the provider than the customer – after all, every operator has to be based somewhere.

Online Gambling in Spain

Spain is a country where the industry is growing at an enormous rate – in fact, some experts believe the Spanish market is even bigger than the UK, which is generally seen as the global home of online betting.

Regulation-wise, the country has seen dramatic change over recent years. Just a decade ago, it was essentially a free-for-all, with the nation’s 17 autonomous regions overseeing all forms of gambling according to their own rules.

All this changed in 2011 with the introduction of the Spanish Gambling Act. While this covered all aspects of gambling, including the national lotteries, the authorities made no secret of the fact that it was predominantly aimed at the growing online and electronic casino market.

As well as requiring all operators to apply for a licence, it also restricted advertising and promotion to licence holders only.

When it was first enacted, the legislation completely outlawed slots type games!

This was clearly a situation that would be impractical in the long term – just look here to see some of the best online slots that are on offer and to get an idea of how large a segment of the industry these types of games occupy. Unsurprisingly, this restriction was lifted in 2014, when Spain made some amendments to the Act, and at the same time granted ten new licences.

A Third Wave

A Third Wave

 

Since then, the online casino segment has continued to thrive – in fact, it has done better than anyone could have imagined. In 2016, the market was worth almost $430 million, constituting an increase of over 30 percent on 2015. Given the numbers, it perhaps comes as no surprise that the nation is rumoured to be opening the doors to a third wave of new licensees later this year.

In 2014, changes to the regulations were accompanied by the opening of a new licensing window, and commentators expect to see the same happen this year, although formal confirmation from Spanish Finance Minister Luis de Guindos is still awaited.

In addition to the new licensing opportunities, it is anticipated that the authorities will also review the rules governing advertising, poker liquidity and the legalisation of a wider range of blackjack variants, and of fantasy sports, which are prohibited under the current rules.

 

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