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Spanish online market maintains double-digit growth rate in 2018, but may be reaching saturation point

Spanish online market maintains double-digit growth rate in 2018, but may be reaching saturation point

Spanish-licensed online operators achieved a combined GGR of €699m in 2018, a 25.48% increase compared to the previous year, according to figures released by the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ).

The verticals casino (38.91%), poker (37.05%), betting (18.11%), and bingo (17.40%) all saw significant growth.

dgoj report 2018



However, the number of active players increased only 5.24% year-on-year to 1,465,129, while total marketing expenditures soared to €328m, up from €222m in 2017 – a 48% increase.

These figures show that the Spanish online gambling market is quickly reaching maturity, after first being regulated in 2013.



Attracting new players is becoming increasingly costly for operators. The dramatic rise in marketing expenditures in 2018 is obviously not sustainable in the long run.

Equally obviously, the rapid growth in demand of the last few years cannot be expected to continue indefinitely. A market shakeout in the short to medium term appears likely.


INFOGRAPHIC | Online operators contribute €325m to European sports, sustain 33,000 EU jobs across 14 member states

INFOGRAPHIC | Online operators contribute €325m to European sports, sustain 33,000 EU jobs across 14 member states

European online gambling operators are contributing €325m to sports and employing 33,000 workers across the European Union, according to new data released by the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA).

EGBA members in 2017 had more than 12 million active customers, held licenses in 19 EU member states, processed 354 million online payments, contributed €325 million support to sports, and sustained 33,000 digital and high quality jobs in the EU across 14 member states, the Brussels-based industry group said.

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA:

Europe’s online gambling sector is a growing and popular form of digital entertainment – but with this growth comes responsibility to ensure that people are kept safe while playing on online gambling websites. This new data shows EGBA members are at the forefront of the sector’s development, interacting with millions of customers and processing nearly a million payment transactions each day.

For additional key figures about the EU-28 online gambling market, see the infographic below.



Gaming in Spain Conference to live stream internationally relevant sessions

Gaming in Spain Conference to live stream internationally relevant sessions

This Thursday, November 8, three sessions that are relevant to a wider, international audience will be live streamed from the convention floor of the Gaming in Spain Conference.

The live streams will be available from Gaming in Spain’s homepage:

The following sessions will be part of the live stream (all times are CET; actual start and ending times may differ slightly):

  1. 10:35-10:55 AM: “Spain as Seen from Brussels” – Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of the European Gaming and Betting Association
    Mr Haijer’s keynote speech will address the importance of regulated gaming with regards to player protection, national tax income, sports funding, and regulatory compliance.
  2. 12:20-12:40 PM: “Why Responsible Gaming Makes Business Sense” – Jesper Kärrbrink, CEO of Mr Green Ltd.
    Growing concerns regarding problem gambling and the protection of minors have led to increasing regulatory pressure in several European jurisdictions. In this session, Jesper Kärrbrink, CEO of well-known gaming operator Mr Green, will explain how and why greater attention to responsible gaming also makes sense from a business perspective.
  3. 1:40-2:00 PM: “Match-Fixing: from Detection to Sanctioning” – Jack Kennedy, Intelligence & Investigation Manager at Sportradar
    Match-fixing not only offers a fundamental threat to the long-term viability of sports, but can also be extremely costly to bookmakers. Close and systematic collaboration between operators and sports integrity services providers is therefore of paramount importance.

Don’t miss it! Tune in at

Spanish government: no plans for absolute prohibition of gambling advertising

On Wednesday, Spanish Finance Minister María Jesús Montero announced that the government would soon release specific details on its forthcoming online gambling advertising restrictions.

Montero further claimed that the government had no plans to impose an “absolute prohibition of publicity” like the kind recently imposed in Italy, as gambling is “a legal activity regulated by the government.”

However, gambling advertising would be restricted to “environments where it does not harm consumption.”

Specifically, this would mean that gambling advertising would be banned from airing during periods in which minors would be likely to be watching or listening and during live sports events. Role models, i.e., celebrities and star athletes, would also be barred from participating in gambling marketing.

Last week, the current minority PSOE government and opposition party Podemos struck a budget deal stating that gambling operators in Spain would soon face severe advertising restrictions “similar to those placed on tobacco.”

Guest blog | Santiago Asensi on regulatory pressure and blurred lines

Guest blog | Santiago Asensi on regulatory pressure and blurred lines

By: Santiago Asensi, Managing Partner at Asensi Abogados

The past 17th of September, fifteen regulators from Europe and the Washington State regulator signed a declaration in which they noted their increased concern with regard to “the risks being posed by the blurring of lines between gambling and other forms of digital entertainment such as video gaming. Concerns in this area have manifested themselves in controversies relating to skin betting, loot boxes, social casino gaming and the use of gambling themed content within video games available to children.”

First and foremost, it should be noted that this declaration springs from the regulators’ desire to protect minors from exposure to gambling-like products. In an increasing number of cases, certain elements of modern video or social games share many similarities with traditional gambling products. These video games and social games, however, are not classified as gambling. Thus, it could be argued that these gambling regulators are not entitled to be part of this particular debate.

Certainly, one of the main aspects of drawing up gambling regulation is to identify those particular elements (among many others) that fall under the legal definition of “gambling.” This is absolutely crucial when it comes to drawing up the red line between gambling products that require a license and games that do not need a license. This distinction, naturally, also helps define – and limit – the particular scope of gambling regulators’ powers. Those games that fall under the definition of gambling are subject to their oversight, while those games that do not qualify as gambling are beyond their competences.

However, the real cornerstone of any given gambling regulation is the collection of public policies, defined by the legislature, that underlie the gambling regulation as developed by the regulator. The protection of minors is a common goal of all the jurisdictions whose gambling regulators have signed the declaration.

Second, the regulators’ initiative needs to be placed within the context of the various political debates currently taking place in relation to matters like gambling advertising, product restrictions, age verification, etc. Without question, these debates are pressuring regulators into taking up defensive positions, where any new policy, rule or provision that could be applauded by the industry requires much stronger justifications than in the past. Political and media pressure sees to that.

Hopefully, the declaration will be effective in achieving positive results with regard to the protection of minors. Furthering this laudable goal through working closely with consumer protection authorities, as well as holding discussions with other relevant stakeholders seems the right first step. These discussions, however, should not only help to accomplish the primary goal of protecting minors, these may also assist in improving the public image of the industries involved.

Santiago Asensi
Managing Partner
Asensi Abogados