Spain to open new licensing window

Business News

Last year, the Spanish online casino market was worth just shy of $430 million in gaming revenue, marking an increase of more than 30% from the previous year.

And now, it has been reported by Gambling Compliance that Spain has been tipped to potentially give online casino operators another chance to enter its growing market.

A third licensing window is being thrown open to operators, which, coincidentally, is set to run alongside the amendment of several related regulations. “Every time there is a new licensing process in Spain it comes with changes in regulation,” said Santiago Asensi, co-founder of Spanish law firm Asensi Abogados in the report.

It has, however, been noted that Spain’s finance minister is still to confirm this window. Nonetheless, the country’s lawmakers are expected to invite online gambling operators to step up and pursue general licenses later on in 2017. This has not happened since 2014, a year in which Spain attracted 10 new licensees.

Back then, the licensing window was accompanied by changes to regulations around online slot-type games, making them legal. Betting exchanges were also discussed.

Asensi, speaking last week at the World Gaming Executive Summit in Barcelona, Spain, said that the Spanish Gambling Authority would need to introduce “secondary” regulations that would allow pooled web-based poker liquidity.

Among other topics up for discussion are fresh game modalities that could get rid of limitations that, at the moment, restrict operators by only allowing them to offer certain blackjack variants. Fantasy sports are also up for discussion, which are currently illegal in the Spanish market.

Furthermore, at present, virtual betting is seen as a form of online slot game, instead of regarded as a more general betting service or product. But its coverage by Spain’s legislative regime will also soon be discussed. Spain’s online gambling tax rates are unlikely to change, with Asensi commenting that it may not be the right time.

But Asensi did note that the country is now in a good position, to “move forward with adopting formal regulations addressing online gambling advertising.”

In 2015, Spanish officials sent a draft decree to the European Commission in Brussels, which looked specifically at gambling advertising. But a final version was never adopted and the document fell by the wayside – possibly as a result of the outcome of that year’s general election.

Understandably, the Spanish Gambling Authority are eager to get this wrapped up, a process that is easier said than done, however – the decree must be scrutinized by multiple layers of the Spanish government, and approved by all. Ultimately this makes it hard to predict whether or not a final advertising law will be in place by the end of the year. What is apparent, though, is that 2017 is likely to bring further changes to Spain’s online gambling sector.