The wait is finally over! Spain is ready to add slot games and exchange betting to its online gambling offer.
After two years of debating the issue and drawing up new regulations, virtual slots and exchange betting are finally coming to Spain. Local authorities have published the new Spanish gambling laws and now the regulatory body announced it was ready to receive license applications from companies offering these two new types of services.
Now that the licensing process has started, the new internet casinos and betting sites could go live by the January 1, 2015. This is the same deadline given by officials earlier this year and it looks like it could actually be met. Meanwhile, operators that already hold a Spanish-issued license will have a head start on newcomers.
Progress with progressive slots
In 2011, Spanish authorities decided to introduce regulations and start offering licenses for internet casino operators. The first licensed online gambling sites went live in June 2012 and their number has grown to over 40 since then.
For the past two years, Spanish internet casinos could offer customers a variety of games, from roulette to poker, blackjack, baccarat or bingo, but for some reason officials made an exception for slot games and exchange betting.
This obviously sparked some debates and authorities eventually reconsidered their stand on online slots and decided to include these types of games on the list. Now all those operators who were eager to join the Spanish market but couldn’t because of this tiny exception made by the law are welcome to apply for a license.
Local gamblers will be able to access Spanish-licensed internet casinos and choose from a wide range of virtual slots, including classic, 3D, video slots or progressive slots.
Let the licensing begin!
Things are now moving forward, after Spanish legislators have published the long-awaited slots and betting exchange regulations. According to local authorities, the new orders were published after their content was “enriched and refined”, and regulations are “conducive to the regulated development of these games.”
With all the legal and administrative issues sorted out, the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) has officially announced it was ready to receive license applications. Of course, this procedure should take another couple of months, but authorities expect to go live with slots games by January 1, 2015. For those companies that already operate licensed online gambling sites in Spain, the process should be even faster.
An official statement said: “With the adoption of these regulations the online gaming market will be strengthened. As a consequence of this (the regulations) will make a positive impact regarding the protection of particularly vulnerable groups, the fight against fraud, generating tax income, and ultimately the creation of an environment in which users can engage in this activity in a safe, responsible manner.”
The high price of casino games in Spain
During the first quarter of the 2014 financial year, Spain’s limited online casino industry accounted for just EUR 8.7 million out of the total online revenue of EUR 66.9 million. Industry experts believe that the new “slots” feature will help companies earn more money.
Now operators have a 30-day window in which they can apply for licenses and it is estimated it will take about six months for the new websites to go live. However, the regulatory body said it would issue all authorizations simultaneously, to make sure that all operators are ready to launch their products by the beginning of 2015.
There is no cap on the number of licenses awarded, but it’s unlikely that there will be many takers, apart from the existing web operators that will not also want to add slots or exchange betting services.
The new slots and exchange betting licenses will be valid for five years, but operators who wish to cater to Spanish players will have to pay a high price, as the government did not change its mind on the pricey 25% tax policy.