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Today’s Gambling Industry in Spain

December 2, 2020

The backbone of today’s gambling industry in Spain was established in 2011 when the country passed a cornerstone piece of regulation known as the Spanish Gambling Act 13/2011, enabling the country to introduce several gambling contests, across multiple verticals. 

Spain quickly rolled out poker, bingo, and casino gaming, collectively known as iGaming, and betting such as sports and horse racing betting. Lotteries are another regulated aspect of the industry today, but we will draw our attention to the iGaming segment and how the country regulates it.

How Are Casinos Regulated in Spain?

Online casinos and casinos for that matter are regulated by a central gaming authority known as DGOJ or Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego if you are a stickler for details. 

The regulator has been the main regulatory body in the country, issuing and suspending licenses as it sees fit, and should it suspect that a brand is non-compliant with established industry practices. 

Today, the Spanish government has no issue with established brands that follow the legal framework laid out by DGOJ, but authorities often crackdown on unauthorized websites, which fail to meet mandatory consumer protection standards.

Spain’s iGaming growth has been heady over the years, with more than a million players participating in various gambling contests by the end of 2012. The numbers would later grow, of course, and today 84.9% of adults participate in gambling contests in Spain.

This makes for an impressive and sizeable chunk of Spain’s 50 million citizens. Gambling wasn’t always smooth sailing and the country. Interestingly, though, Spain didn’t introduce slots – better known as ‘tragaperras – until 2014, and the industry’s iGaming segment has been growing ever since.

Spain had had an uninterrupted growth across all gambling segments since 2011 when the Gambling Act was passed and promulgated. The country has seen an almost unchecked growth over the past decade, with all verticals benefiting from the growing interest in various gambling markets. 

Can You Play in Online Casinos from Spain?

The short answer is yes. The only condition you must meet is being of the legal gambling age, which is 18. Spain has a remarkably low incidence of gambling addiction among its population, with only 0.3% of gamblers reporting or exhibiting problem gambling behavior.

This puts the country as one of the safest places to be if you enjoy online casinos. While players can be temperamental, the government has set fail-safes in places, making it difficult for opportunistic operators to take advantage of consumers.

Online Casinos in Spain Pay Taxes Same as Every Other Business

Casinos in Spain are not exonerated from taxes in any way. If anything, they are expected to meet the same criteria as other businesses. 

The current rate of taxation for online casinos in Spain is 25%, but this tax may be subject to revision as the government is now focusing on consumer protection more heavily. 

While the tax rate is one of the stiffest in the European Union, operators have been happy to meet government requirements to gain access to what is one of the largest markets on the continent.

It’s good to know that current laws, licensed online casinos in Spain must use the country’s native domain extension, .es, or may be considered offshore or otherwise unauthorized websites.

Advertisement Is Being Scaled Down

While online casinos in Spain have gone fairly happy about their business, a new set of regulations is now looming. Early in 2020, Spain introduced a set of measures to limit the exposure of consumers to gambling advertisements.

Later, the country submitted a revised draft to the European Commission, offering to suspend advertisement, for the most part, allocating ad spaces in the wee hours of the day, and largely restricting operator’s ability to reach out their target audiences.

In many ways, Spain follows in the steps of Italy, another hardliner when it comes to gambling and casino gaming in Europe. The measure caused a stir at first, and Spain followed up by prohibiting sponsorships between sporting teams and brands, with all such partnerships now subject to termination by Q4, 2021. 

Nevertheless, even with advertisement opportunities scaled-down, Spain remains a fantastic market that continues to attract new investment opportunities. 

Final Word

Online casinos in Spain are a cherished segment of the gaming experience. While they weren’t originally popular, the ability to enjoy casino gaming products such as slots, craps, poker, and table games was quickly appreciated by Spaniards. 

Revenue has been going strong in Q2, 2020, with Spain posting some impressive results. Both online casinos and poker grew posting 36.5% and 97.4% growth year-over-year, respectively. Online casinos, it seems, are quite popular, and even though advertisement spending has dropped in 2020, iGaming is going strong.

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