Gambling in Spain: free gambling market in practice (part1)

Spain free market economy

The gambling law from 2011 regulating gambling in Spain, with all its deficiencies, proves to be a solid base for free gambling market development

While many countries in Europe are closing their borders for foreign licensed operators, Spain is one of the rare countries in which the freedom of the market is to a great extent still respected. Another characteristic of the gambling market in Spain is that unlike most of the markets in the European Union it is not centralized. Each region has its own gambling authorities which are licensed to offer gambling services on the market.

Although the license system is the same as in many others European countries, Spain succeed to maintain the freedom of the gambling economic sphere to an exemplary degree. The result of all this, as online gambling sites in Spain report is the increased number of players on an annual level in the past three years.

History of gambling in Spain

The current gambling legislative of Spain was published on May 28, 2011 in the Spanish Official Gazette, and since this date is considered to be on force nationwide. It is officially known as the new Law (13/2011), dated May 27.The gambling regime in Spain, especially the online gambling,prior to this law was regulated by the 17 autonomous regions, so the maintain of the new legislation voted in 2011 was to coordinate the regulation of online gambling in Spain, an activity which clearly transcends regional boundaries.

In this respect the Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling as part of the Ministry of Finance and General Government was considered to be responsible for supervision and if necessary penalization of the gambling activities in the Spanish State. However this didn’t meant centralized system of control on the sector. On the contrary, as online gambling sites in EU point out, the new Spanish Gambling Law allows the autonomous regions to continue structuring most gambling policies withintheir respective territories, which showed to be especially efficient for the development online gambling in the country.

The statistics behind the Spanish market
• Spain has currently 43 casinos marking more than 6 million visits on annual level

• Each Spanish region can frame the gambling policies within the frames of the national gambling law

• Lotto still remains the only monopoly

The Law also regulates the provision of games by the lottery operators ONCE and LAE, regardless of the channel through which those games are provided. Although they continued to have a prioritized role in the new Spanish gambling system in terms of many subvention, the general view is that the Spanish market rightly can be described as one of the most liberal gambling markets in the European Union. 

The performances of the Spanish market in the past two years 

Several companies have analyzed the performances of the thus framed gambling market in Spain. The statistics from 2015 showed that the number of registered players to online gambling sites in Spain jumped from 2.2 million to 3.9 million at the end of 2014 according to the Spanish online gaming regulator, a number that most likely increased by the end of 2016 to 5.4 million.
At the end of last year 51.7 percent of active players were new registrants of which 87 percent were made up of men and are between the ages of 18 and 45. The ‘player lifetime’ average, as gambling news report, was 3.27 months and another 41.7 percent of players participated in gambling for approximately one month.

Traffic showed over 70 percent of players stayed with one online operator and only 1.6 percent had accounts at six or more other operators. 60.4 percent wagered on sports betting, 44.8 percent on poker, 20.6 per cent on casino games and 7.9 percent in bingo. On the average gambling expenses were EUR 7.769 for men with women spending half as much. The return to player payout from all games average was 95.7 percent.

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