Articles by: Sarah Tilley

Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Spain’s Advisory Board for Responsible Gaming (CAJR) holds first meeting …and more!

Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Spain’s Advisory Board for Responsible Gaming (CAJR) holds first meeting …and more!

Spain’s online market could be overheating

Spain’s online gaming market grew only modestly in the final quarter of 2018, despite a surge in marketing expenditure, new figures from the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) have revealed.

Gross gaming revenue increased by 4.21% on a quarterly basis to €189.5m in the final three months of last year – a 10.74% year-on-year rise.

However, Spanish iGaming operators’ affiliate marketing spend increased by almost 30% during Q4 2018, to €9.7 million.

The relative modest growth in GGR indicates that the Spanish online market could soon lose some of its recent shine, says strategic consultancy firm Regulus Partners:

“[…] despite continued aggressive marketing support (50% revenue, net of bonuses; + 45% YoY), likely in part driven by the tax decrease and early ‘responses’ to the licensing window opening, the number of active players actually fell YoY by 8%. This suggests a market which might be capable of growth but that is far from sustainable from a net contribution perspective for the vast majority of its licensees.

From a top-down perspective, positioning in Spain still appears attractive in terms of macro trends and liberal regulation. However, from a bottom-up perspective, too many operators seem to have decided that is the case in an undifferentiated way, causing overheating and potentially signs that the market could start to disappoint.”


Jdigital debunks online gambling myths

Trade association Jdigital has released an infographic debunking three widely-held myths regarding online gambling in Spain.

The infographic points out that regulated online gambling is not anonymous and that playing behavior is closely monitored to detect early signs of pathological gambling behavior.

Furthermore, contrary to what is often maintained, the obligation of licensed operators to identify their players means that minors are not increasingly gambling online. In fact, minors are by definition excluded from all licensed offerings.

Finally, licensed operators do not systematically profit from gambling addicts. Whenever unhealthy behavior is observed, various protocols and control measures automatically kick in to further prevent players from losing control.


Spain to create a National Commission to fight match-fixing and fraudulent betting

The Spain Ministry of Finance has announced its intention to form a National Commission to combat match-fixing. The commission will be made up from representatives from the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ), sports federations, and the national police.

Stakeholders are invited to comment on the proposal until March 8.


Upcoming Events

The following events may be of interest to members of the GiS community.

  • Betting on Football, which is set to take place 19 – 22 March 2019 at Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea FC, is the only trade conference that brings together decision makers from international operators to address the recent issues and opportunities in the sports betting industry.
  • Betting on Sports America is the largest sports betting conference & exhibition in the US, featuring 175 leading industry speakers across 40 sessions. The event is scheduled to take place 23 – 25 April, 2019 in New York/New Jersey.
  • GamblingCompliance Global Regulatory Awards 2019, which celebrate excellence in compliance and responsible gambling initiatives, will be awarded on 1 May, 2019 at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in Central London.
  • 115+ speakers already confirmed their attendance at the World Gaming Executive Summit, 2 – 4 July, 2019 in Barcelona.
  • Betting on Sports 2019, the world’s largest sports betting conference & exhibition, will be held 17 – 20 September, 2019, in London. Betting on Sports 2019 will take place concurrently with CasinoBeats Summit 2019.
  • The International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) will hold its 2019 Annual Conference in Montego Bay, Jamaica from 30 September to 3 October 2019.
  • The Responsibility in Gaming Conference, taking place 23 – 24 October, 2019 in Brussels, will focus on what operators and regulators can and should do to create an effective and workable responsible gaming policy.


Spain’s Advisory Board for Responsible Gaming (CAJR) holds first meeting

On February 25, the first meeting of the Advisory Board for Responsible Gaming (Consejo Asesor de Juego Responsable – CAJR) took place.

The CAJR consists of regulators, addiction care specialists, and industry representatives. A full member list is available here.

During its first meeting, the CAJR also invited two responsible gaming experts: Dr Susana Jiménez Murcia, Coordinator of the Pathological Gambling Unit of the University Hospital of Bellvitge and Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Psychology and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit of the University of Nottingham Trent.

The CAJR furthermore discussed the proposed Royal Decree on gambling advertising and responsible gaming, as well as measures to prevent the participation of minors in games of chance.


Other news

Spanish regulator DGOJ has made a kit of utilities available to online operators to facilitate the electronic age and ID verification of prospective players.


Gaming lawyer Santiago Asensi Gisbert, managing partner of Asensi Abogados, has been selected as a “star individual” entry in Chambers Global 2018.


Trade association Jdigital has requested that future advertising restrictions will also apply to state-owned operators.


ESSA (Sports Betting Integrity) has published an extensive response to the proposed Spanish sports betting integrity framework.


ESSA (Sports Betting Integrity) reported 267 cases of suspicious betting to the relevant authorities during 2018. Tennis (178) and football (52) constituted 86% of all alerts during the year.


Grupo Codere SA closes its full-year 2018 accounts reporting group-wide losses of €40 million, primarily attributed to significant Argentine market adjustments.


Codere has extended its partnership with sports betting supplier Playtech BGT Sports. The new contract, which will last until the end of 2022, covers Codere’s retail and online presence in Spain, Mexico, Panama, and Colombia.


Betfred will open an office in Ceuta in order to take advantage of the tax benefits offered by the Spanish government to gaming companies based in the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla.


GentingBet has applied for a casino and sports betting license in Spain and is planning to go live in the market by the end of 2019.


After five years of decline, online poker GGR has grown 37% in 2018, according to trade association Jdigital.


Spanish poker player Ramón Colillas has joined Team PokerStars.


The City of Valencia has decreed that the buses and bus stops of the municipal transport company can no longer carry advertising for online gambling operators.


MEP Ana Mirande of the Bloque Nacionalista Galega (BNG) has asked the European Commission to consider instituting a single set of online gambling regulations for the entire EU.


New sports betting market entrant Carousel Group has a large number of job openings available at its Madrid office.


Colombian gambling regulatory body Coljuegos announced the issuing of its 17th online gambling license to Bogotá-based


Gaming technology supplier PlayAGS has entered into a partnership with Ainsworth-powered online casino Mustang Money Mexico as it seeks to establish a presence in the Mexican iGaming market.

Gaming in Spain Newsletter -Spanish industry representatives join new responsible gaming advisory board …and more!

Gaming in Spain Newsletter -Spanish industry representatives join new responsible gaming advisory board …and more!

Looking back at a successful Gaming in Spain Conference

Over 150 delegates from 18 countries gathered in Madrid on November 8 to discuss the latest developments in the fast-growing Spanish gaming market at the 2018 Gaming in Spain Conference.

The following conference presentations were recorded and are now available on YouTube:

Photographs of the event can be viewed here.


Jdigital and Adigital release statement on the relation between online gaming and gambling addiction

Trade associations Jdigital, representing the Spanish online gaming industry, and Adigital, representing the interests of Spanish businesses active in the digital economy, have released a joint statement on the perceived relationship between online gaming and the growth of gambling addiction in the country.

The associations point out that online gaming generates only a small part (6%) of the revenues of the gaming sector as a whole. Furthermore, the number of problem gamblers in Spain is low – 0.3% of the population. Moreover, only a minority of problem gamblers (16.2%) wager online.

Likewise, it should be noted that online gaming advertising represents only 0.77% of total advertising investment in Spain in 2017, according to figures supplied by Infoadex.

“Therefore, we consider it unfair and wrong to point to online gaming as primarily or exclusively responsible for the issue of problem gambling,” the joint statement concludes.


Spanish online GGR up 30% in Q3

Spanish online GGR grew 29.86% year-on-year to €181.77m during Q3 2018, according to new figures released by the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ).

Betting generated €97.65m in turnover (53.72% of total online quarterly GGR), a 27.41% increase year-on-year.

The casino vertical generated €60.85m (33.48%) and grew 39.19% y-o-y.

Poker revenues jumped 35% y-o-y to €19.8m (10.89%).

Total marketing spending during the quarter came to €75.85m, a 56.26% increase y-o-y.

The monthly average of active users during the third quarter was 812,007, up 30.71% compared to the same period in the previous year.


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).

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 here.


Upcoming Events

The following events may be of interest to members of the GiS community.


Spanish industry representatives join new responsible gaming advisory board

Representatives from some of Spain’s leading gaming operators and suppliers will be part of a new advisory board that will help define the country’s responsible gaming strategy.

The Advisory Council on Responsible Gaming (Consejo Asesor del Juego Responsible – CAJR) was created in 2013, but without a formalized structure. Late last month, the tasks and structure of the CAJR were more closely defined by an order of the Spanish Minister of Finance.

The updated role of the CAJR will be to provide appropriate assistance, guidance and advice to Spanish regulator DGOJ in the formulation, monitoring and execution of its public policies regarding responsible gambling.

Among the 25 new members appointed to the CAJR are Sportium CEO Alberto Eljarrat, R. Franco vice president María José Gallardo, and Luckia’s legal counsel Francisco Feijoo. Also represented are social health and consumer rights advocates. The CAJR will be chaired by Juan Espinosa García, the president of the DGOJ.

“The working group represents all parties involved in the industry, and will allow the collection of points of views from all sides, with the aim of promoting responsible gaming,” Sportium CEO Eljarrat said.


Other news

Spanish regulator DGOJ has published an updated version of its strategy for supervising the Spanish gaming industry.


The Spanish government has proposed a €100,000 fine for offering unlicensed online gambling.


Following the publication of its Q3 2018 trading update in which the company posted year-to-date net losses of €55 million, Madrid-based operator Codere has witnessed its share price collapse, as sharp devaluation of Latin American currencies proved costly for the operator.


Playtech has partnered with Betclic and Unibet in France, and bet365, Betfair, Casino Barcelona and Sportium in Spain to launch its shared-liquidity iPoker network in France and Spain.


Betting service provider Sportium has entered into a partnership with the Apuesta Hípica y Deportiva Iberia (AHDI), the company that operates Seville’s Gran Hipódromo de Andalucía racetrack.


The online platform of Casino Barcelona has signed a content partnership with gaming solutions supplier Yggdrasil.


Gaming in Holland founder Willem van Oort discusses the latest regulatory developments in Spain and the “mild chaos” holding back the Dutch industry in the latest issue of Trafficology (pp. 23-24).


Gaming in Spain Newsletter – “Number of minors who manage to gamble online is negligible” …and more!

Mr Green CEO to speak at Gaming in Spain Conference

Jesper Kärrbrink, CEO of Mr Green Ltd., has confirmed his attendance at the upcoming Gaming in Spain Conference.

Mr Kärrbrink will give a presentation on “Why responsible gaming makes business sense.”

Ceuta officials to offer first-hand details on favorable local tax regime

Additionally, officials representing the Spanish autonomous city Ceuta will attend the GiS Conference to provide a detailed explanation of the significant new tax breaks that are available to iGaming companies based in the North African enclave.

Located only 20 kilometers from the Spanish mainland, Ceuta is an excellent base of operations for iGaming companies looking to profit from a special tax regime. With a number of important new tax breaks in place, the city has the potential to become an attractive alternative to post-Brexit Gibraltar.

The following officials have confirmed their attendance:

  • Guillermo Martínez, Senator (Partido Popular) representing Ceuta
  • Enrique Reyes, General Manager at Ceuta’s Revenue Service (Organismo Autónomo Servicios Tributario de Ceuta)
  • Emilio Fernández, Director of Legal Services at Organismo Autónomo Servicios Tributario de Ceuta

Full agenda now available

The event’s agenda is now available on the conference website.

When & where

The 2018 Gaming in Spain Conference will be held November 7-8, 2018, at Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid.

Includes behind-the-scenes stadium tour

Registered conference attendants will be offered the opportunity to participate in a behind-the-scenes stadium tour of Wanda Metropolitano, host venue of the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final, followed by business drinks and a networking dinner.

Exclusive offer for Jdigital members

Jdigital members receive an exclusive 15% discount on standard price tickets if they register through this link. Please note: this offer is strictly limited to current members of Jdigital.


Spanish government: no plans for absolute prohibition of gambling advertising

Spain’s 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.

Earlier, 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.”

Although the introduction of a near prohibition of gambling advertising could have a significant impact on Spain’s gaming market, there are still several major political and legal roadblocks ahead for the government’s proposal, local experts told Gaming in Spain.


Upcoming events

The following events may be of interest to members of the GiS community.

  • Join EGR Global’s Breakfast Briefing on “Changing the culture around gambling – consumer and industry behaviours” on 2 November in London.
  • The 2018 Gaming in Spain Conference, which takes place 7-8 November, in Madrid, is your single stop to stay informed of the increasingly attractive opportunities offered by the booming Spanish online gaming market. Click here to register.
  • Clarion Gaming has launched ICE Sports Betting USA, a two-day event to be held in New York on 27 and 28 November, 2018.


“Number of minors who manage to gamble online is negligible”

Despite abundant reporting in the Spanish media about children who are supposedly gambling online, the number of minors who actually manage to do so is “negligible,” according to Cecilia Pastor, Subdirectora General de Inspección del Juego at Spanish regulator DGOJ.

“There is no cause for alarm,” Pastor added.

Nonetheless, the DGOJ is further tightening up player registration procedures.

According to new rules that will soon be implemented, players whose identity has not yet been positively verified with the help of documentary evidence will only be able to deposit up to 150 euros and play games, but will not be able to withdraw any funds.

The full interview with Pastor is available here.


Other news

The regulators of Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Portugal and Spain agreed to deepen their cooperation with respect to online payment processors who provide services to unlicensed gambling providers.


Spanish gambling regulator DGOJ has launched a mobile app to make it easier for people struggling with gambling addiction to self-exclude from betting services in the country.


The DGOJ invites all stakeholders in the gambling sector to participate in a public consultation on the recently published draft law to prevent fiscal fraud.


In a bid to compete with post-Brexit Gibraltar and even Malta, the autonomous city of Ceuta has been proposing a number of additional local tax breaks to lure iGaming firms to the North African enclave.


Casino Gran Madrid has signed an agreement with R. Franco Digital to integrate their games into its online casino platform.


Casino Barcelona’s online platform launched a multi-channel advertising campaign to promote its recently added online sports betting section.


Portugal has issued online sports betting and casino licenses to Spanish gaming operator Luckia.


Bwin has sharpened its focus on Spanish-speaking markets with a new casino content deal with Spanish developer MGA.


Betsson has revamped the design of its Spanish website to improve user experience, especially for mobile devices.


Gaming tech supplier OPTIMA has won the Cloud Systems Management award at the Oracle Innovation Excellence Awards 2018.


According to some estimates, Spanish gambling operators could earn more than $1 billion in annual gross revenues by 2023.


Working alongside Spanish gambling regulator DGOJ, La Liga’s integrity unit has reported 39 suspicious betting alerts during the 2017/18 Spanish football season, which resulted in nine criminal court cases prosecuting match-fixing offenses.


Perform Content signed a four-year contract to market the streaming rights of Spanish La Liga football matches to betting operators.


Four European casino operators, including Grupo CIRSA, contend that Andorra’s recently concluded casino tender has been marred by grave irregularities.


In this video, GamblingCompliance’s Managing Editor, Joe Ewens, runs through the recent changes in gambling advertising regulation across Europe and what this will mean for key jurisdictions such as Italy, the UK and Sweden.


Several Spanish court have ruled that punters may use gambling losses to limit their tax liability on their winnings.


The Community of Madrid seeks to reinforce physical access controls to gaming halls.


Portugal’s government has scrapped its recently announced plans to impose a new 25% flat tax on online gambling revenue.


Major UK expo organizer Clarion Gaming has released a new code of conduct disallowing “partial or total nudity or overtly sexual or suggestive clothing or marketing methods” at its trade shows.

Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Experts comment on Spanish proposals for tough gambling advertising rules

Following a budget deal between the current minority PSOE government and opposition party Podemos, gambling operators in Spain could soon face severe advertising restrictions “similar to those placed on tobacco.”

What will this mean for the industry? What else is in the budget deal? How likely is it that the proposed measures will actually be implemented? Read on to find out!

The budget deal

The new budget’s section on gambling (pp. 42-43) states that the proliferation of online gambling and aggressive advertising by online operators has caused “serious problems” with regard to pathological gambling behavior and gambling addiction.

In order to counter this development, the Spanish government and Podemos seek to introduce four distinct measures.

First, it is proposed that gambling advertising will be restricted in a similar manner as the advertising of tobacco products. Currently, tobacco brands are prohibited from offering sponsorships and, with a few exceptions, to advertise in Spanish media.

Second, the Spanish regulator will be asked to investigate whether additional preventive measures to increase players’ awareness of their gambling behavior can be added to the existing regulatory framework.

Third, operators must take a greater share of responsibility with regard to combating and repairing the negative social effects of gambling.

Fourth, a portion of the administrative fees paid by online operators will be reallocated to fund prevention and responsible gaming initiatives.


Industry reactions

In particular, the proposed restrictions on gambling advertising have not been welcomed by the Spanish gaming industry.

“We see a prohibition of or excessive limitations on advertising as a step back that will negatively impact licensed operators compared to black market operators. At present, advertising is the only weapon available to licensed operators against their unlicensed competitors,” Mikel López de Torre, President of online trade association Jdigital told La Vanguardia.

Alejandro Landaluce, Director-General of the CeJuego industry association, said that although the sector is not opposed to advertising regulation, it would be unfair to equate gambling advertising with the marketing of tobacco products.

Landaluce added that any new gambling advertising restrictions must be applied fairly and thus also apply to state-run lotteries and betting pools.

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), acknowledges that gambling advertising can be excessive or misdirected, but also stresses the crucial importance of advertising for steering consumers toward licensed operators:

“Problem gambling is a legitimate public health concern – particularly for those gamblers and their families who are affected by it – and all stakeholders must work more closely together to tackle it.

It is important to recall that consumer protection was the single most important reason to introduce online gambling regulation in Spain. Online gambling was legalized with the explicit goal of creating a safe, reliable, and regulated environment for Spanish consumers to       play in. Advertising is an essential part of such an environment: it informs players which websites are licensed, regulated and subject to regulatory oversight by Spanish authorities. Without advertising, players will no longer be directed toward regulated offerings, which will result in lower levels of consumer protection and increasing risks of problem gambling.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that any and all advertising is good or acceptable. Despite the importance of advertising, legitimate concerns do exist about the content of gambling advertising and whether it is encouraging problematic gambling behavior. That is why EGBA supports measures that ensure advertising is responsible and informative, and does not entice problem gamblers or young people to gamble.”


Legal and political roadblocks

Although the introduction of a near prohibition of gambling advertising would have a significant impact on Spain’s (online) gaming market, there are still several major political and legal roadblocks ahead for the government’s proposal, local experts told Gaming in Spain.

Santiago Asensi, Managing Partner at Asensi Abogados:

“At this stage, it is too early to tell what exactly is going to happen and how the current declaration that gambling advertising should be regulated similar to tobacco products is going to be developed.

Over the last three years, the Spanish regulator has been working on an advertising bill, which – due to changing political circumstances – has not yet been approved. Said bill places additional restrictions on the current gambling advertising rules in Spain, but can still be considered a well-balanced regulatory tool in terms of protecting consumers as well as providing good advertising opportunities to the industry.

From a political perspective, the manner in which the recent declaration is going to be implemented remains uncertain. It is not clear, for instance, how long the current government will remain in power. In case the current government does manage to stay on, it        is, as of yet, uncertain how exactly the declaration will be incorporated in the advertising bill   proposed by the regulator.

Thus, I would say that the next two to three months are crucial in order to see how this issue is going to be resolved.”

Pedro López Martín-Andino, Managing Partner at MartínAndino Abogados:

“It is important to bear in mind that there is still a very long and complicated path to follow before the Spanish Budget Act for 2019 is finally approved. PSOE and Podemos still need to seek support from several nationalist political groups. Also, the Partido Popular still has majority in the Senate. Additionally, the political situation is very unstable. Thus, the definitive approval of the Budget Act looks uncertain.

To further complicate matters, the current Spanish Gaming Act states that the regulation of marketing and advertising activities related to online gaming must occur through a regulatory decision (i.e. a Royal Decree). For reasons of transparency, the procedure for the approval of a Royal Decree requires that a public consultation is opened, in order to hear from relevant stakeholders.

Thus, if the current government decides to include these new advertising restrictions directly in the Spanish Budget Act, they will be ignoring the procedure set forth in the Spanish Gaming Act, as well as the voice of the industry. It would be sad news indeed for those who defend legal certainty and a stable framework for doing business in Spain.

Last but not least, the regulation on the advertising of tobacco products in Spain follows the applicable EU Directives on this matter. Trying to equate tobacco advertising with advertising activities in a completely different sector, such as online gaming, seems to be            disproportionate, unfair and insufficiently thought through.”


Learn more at the upcoming Gaming in Spain Conference

To learn more of the Spanish government’s budget proposal, its implications and potential consequences, visit the 2018 Gaming in Spain Conference, as the newly proposed advertising restrictions will be a major topic at the conference.

The 2018 GiS Conference will feature:

  • local regulators: Juan Espinosa García, Director General de Regulación del Juego, Ministerio de Hacienda y Función Pública; Guillermo Olagüe Sánchez, Subdirector General de Regulación del Juego, DGOJ
  • legal experts: Santiago Asensi, Managing Partner at Asensi Abogados; Pedro López Martín-Andino, Managing Partner at MartínAndino Abogados
  • national and international industry representatives: Mikel López de Torre, President of Jdigital; Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA
  • and many more!

This 2018 Gaming in Spain Conference will take place November 7-8, 2018, at Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, home stadium of Atlético Madrid FC and host venue of the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final.

Register now!

Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Podemos seeks to impose restrictions on bookmakers, betting advertising …and more!

Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Podemos seeks to impose restrictions on bookmakers, betting advertising …and more!

Spanish regulators meet with industry at Gaming in Spain Conference

Meet with Spanish regulators

Just a bit over a month ahead of the closing of the current licensing window on December 17, attendees of the Gaming in Spain Conference will have one last opportunity to hear from and meet with local regulators.

Juan Espinosa García, Director General de Regulación del Juego, Ministerio de Hacienda y Función Pública, and Guillermo Olagüe Sánchez, Subdirector General de Regulación del Juego, DGOJ, will both address the expected impact of the third licensing window on Spain’s online market, as well as the country’s current regulatory outlook.

Don’t miss it. Register now!

Other speakers & key conference topics

Other confirmed speakers include:

  • Mikel López de Torre, President of Jdigital and Digital Director at Sportium
  • Santiago Asensi, Managing Partner at Asensi Abogados
  • Pedro López Martín-Andino, Managing Partner at MartínAndino Abogado
  • Pedro Fernández, Socio at Garrigues
  • Aurora Merino Salas, CEO of Asensi Technologies

Key conference topics are:

  • Market growth: organic growth and onboarding of gray market traffic
  • Tax reduction: now confirmed at 20% of GGR
  • Ceuta and Melilla: a reduced gambling tax rate for resident companies
  • New suppliers and new products (B2B and B2C)
  • Responsible Gaming awareness

New sponsors announced

We are proud to announce that several new strategic partners and sponsors have signed up to support the 2018 Gaming in Spain Conference.

We are extremely pleased that Betradar, leading supplier of sports betting data, Optima, provider of innovative gaming and betting software, as well as online trade association Jdigital have agreed to become strategic partners of the Gaming in Spain Conference.

We would also like to extend our thanks to our other sponsors: Asensi Abogados, BetConstruct, Betgenius, Ezugi, GameArt, Leaseweb, Microgaming, Mindway AI, Pentasia, R. Franco Digital, and Yggdrasil.

When & where

The fourth Gaming in Spain Conference will be held November 7-8, 2018 at Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, the home stadium of Atlético Madrid FC and host venue of the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final.

Click here to register.


Gaming in Spain website now live

The Gaming in Spain website, containing regular news updates, guest blogs, and our monthly newsletter, is now live! Check it out here.


Spain to overhaul problem gambling approach

The Spanish Drug Addiction Council (Consejo Español de Drogodependencias) has introduced gambling harm as an issue to be addressed in the country’s Action Plan on Addictions 2018 – 2020 (Plan de Acción sobre Adicciones 2018 – 2020).

The involvement of Spain’s Drug Addiction Council in drafting problem gambling policy follows the decision of last February by the Council of Ministers to reclassify gambling-related harm as a “drug addiction without substance.”

The Council of Ministers has requested that the Drug Addiction Council rewrite Spain’s National Addiction Strategy 2017 – 2024 (of which the Action Plan on Addictions 2018 – 2020 is a part) to include problem gambling behavior.

Yesterday, the new strategy also gained approval from the Sectoral Conference on Drugs (Conferencia Sectorial sobre Drogas), a political decision-making body made up of members of various offices of Spain’s central government.

More than a billion euros is available until 2024 to implement Spain’s National Addiction Strategy.


Guest blog by Santiago Asensi on regulatory pressure in relation to blurred lines between gaming and gambling

Spanish gaming lawyer Santiago Asensi has written a commentary on the recent declaration by sixteen international gambling regulators (including the DGOJ) on the blurring of lines between gaming and gambling.

According to Asensi, the declaration illustrates that it is increasingly crucial for regulators to establish firm lines that help define gambling products and distinguish these from non-gambling products.

The full article is available here.


Artificial intelligence predicts problematic gambling behavior

Mindway, winner of Gaming in Holland’s Responsibility in Gaming Award for Industry Innovation of the Year 2018, has developed a method based on artificial intelligence (AI), that is able to evaluate online gambling behavior and to successfully predict the need for self-exclusion, limit setting, or other responsible gaming measures.

Mindway’s AI furthermore generates targeted and individualized conversation guides that can be used in reaching out to customers, either online or by helpline staff.


Spain provides large talent pool to iGaming entrepreneurs

Giuliano Lafirenza of leading iGaming Recruitment agency Pentasia provides an update on the Spanish gaming talent market:

“Gaming operators and suppliers hiring in Spain generally find a good range of strong candidates, sourced either within the region or further afield […] Barcelona and Madrid remain the top locations for gaming operations, and talent is clustered around these areas. […]

Challenges come in the form of the sector’s own expansion – through new licenses – and closely related industries – such as ecommerce, fintech, payments – which will undoubtedly increase competition for talent. The growth of Spain’s overall tech sector is clearly good for gaming, but employers will need to remain aware of new jobs which may appeal to             valuable staff.”


Upcoming events

The following events may be of interest to members of the Gaming in Spain community.

  • The Responsible Marketing For Gambling Operators Conference, which focuses on the changing regulatory landscapearound promotions, will take place on October 3, 2018, in London.
  • On October 16, Kindred Group will host the Sustainable Gambling Conferencein Stockholm, Sweden. The conference aims to highlight different perspectives on sustainable gamblingby bringing together stakeholders from the industry, academia, and regulators.
  • The Lisbon Affiliate Conferencewill take place on 17-20 October 2018and is expected to bring together the key stakeholders in the iGaming affiliate industry.
  • Clarion Gaming has launchedICE Sports Betting USA, a two-day event to be held in New York on 27 and 28 November, 2018.


Podemos seeks to impose restrictions on bookmakers, betting advertising

Political group Podemos has requested that the Spanish government introduce additional restrictions on bookmakers, including a higher level of taxation and a complete ban on sports betting advertising.

More traditional forms of gambling, such as the football pools and lotteries, would be exempt from these new restrictions.

A complete ban on sports betting advertising would cost the media an estimated €133m annually.

Juan Espinosa García, Director General de Regulación del Juego at the Ministry of the Treasury, spoke up in defense of the sector, claiming that regulated remote gaming offers an opportunity to identity and address problematic gambling behavior.

“Podemos’ proposal shows how much work we have ahead of us to communicate the reality of the regulated gambling sector to the general public and political stakeholders,” Mikel López de Torre, President of Jdigital added.

Podemos’ calls for new betting restrictions will also be an important topic at the upcoming Gaming in Spain Conference. Book your place here.


Other news

Sportium, the Spanish market joint venture of Grupo Cirsa and Ladbrokes, has announced that it has reached a milestone 3,000 active betting points within Spain.


Publishing its latest corporate update, Cirsa reports a 3.2% increase in group revenues to €359 million for Q2 2018.


Three Codere directors, including the company’s founders, refused to sign off the company’s H1 financial results in another flare up of its boardroom war.


Mikel López de Torre, Director of Digital Services at Sportium, was reelected as Chairman of trade association Jdigital.


Betsson’s Spanish brand has launched a new loyalty program that enables users to accumulate points that can be exchanged for bonuses.


Online betting and gaming operator Tempobet hasrenewed its agreement with Spanish football giants Real Madrid and Barcelona to advertise at both clubs’ away league fixtures throughout the 2018/19 La Liga season.


Russian bookmaker Fonbet has become an official partner for Spain’s La Liga on a three year deal.


Real Madrid and ManBetx have signed an agreement to make the company the club’s new regional betting partner across the majority of Asia.


Operator Wanabet has signed up to become the official betting partner of basketball team Movistar Estudiantes.


Following a deal between Sportium and France’s Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU), Spanish horse racing fans are henceforth able to bet on French races.


Formula One has announced a sponsorship and data rights deal with sports marketing company Interregional Sports Group (ISG) that it said will enable the development of live in-play betting at Grand Prix.


Colombia’s gambling regulator issued its 13th and 14th online gaming licenses to Alfabet SAS and Teclino SAS, while the country’s 15th online gambling license was awarded to local subsidiary of Meridian Gaming.


Peruvian legislators have put forward a bill that would legalize online betting and gaming in the country.


Guest Blog: Gaming sector making the most of Spain’s strong talent market

Guest Blog: Gaming sector making the most of Spain’s strong talent market

An update on the Spanish gaming talent market from Pentasia’s Giuliano Lafirenza

Talent is fundamental to any successful gaming business. Spain remains an attractive region for the sector not only for its market, but also the quality and size of its gaming talent pool.

Gaming operators and suppliers hiring in Spain generally find a good range of strong candidates, sourced either within the region or further afield as expat candidates look to bring their experience back home. Barcelona and Madrid remain the top locations for gaming operations, and talent is clustered around these areas.

Internationally, Spain is renowned as an excellent location for digital innovation and entrepreneurship, with inflow of both talent and investment in tech. The gaming sector here largely employs specialist leadership talent, marketing functions, operations and customer service, whilst locating more substantial teams – such as tech – elsewhere in Europe.

Challenges come in the form of the sector’s own expansion – through new licenses – and closely related industries – such as ecommerce, fintech, payments – which will undoubtedly increase competition for talent. The growth of Spain’s overall tech sector is clearly good for gaming, but employers will need to remain aware of new jobs which may appeal to valuable staff.

Tax changes should also be considered from a talent perspective. Operators looking to benefit from a Ceuta or Melilla location will need to base senior leadership talent in the North African cities; a potential opportunity for many candidates, but unlikely to appeal to all. Staff across the sector will also expect to see at least some benefit from the more favourable conditions.


Pentasia is the world’s leading iGaming Recruitment agency, with offices in Barcelona, London, Malta, Las Vegas, New York and Singapore. 

How AI (Artificial Intelligence) can be used for Responsible Gaming – Guestblog by Dennis Hvam

How AI (Artificial Intelligence) can be used for Responsible Gaming – Guestblog by Dennis Hvam

Award-winning AI technology for early detection of problematic gambling behavior and individualized customer approach.

With increasing availability of online gambling, more people are at risk of developing problem gambling behavior. They often neglect their problem and are unsusceptible to preventive measures offered by operators, including general information, prevention programs, voluntary self-exclusion and limit-setting. Some operators use machine learning to predict later self-exclusion, but only a minority of at-risk or compulsory gamblers self-exclude which negatively affects such predictive algorithms.

At Mindway AI, we take an innovative approach to solve these limitations.

With onset in neuroscience and clinical psychology, we use artificial intelligence which relies on human expert evaluations of thousands of gambling trajectories. A board of clinicians and pathological gambling researchers have meticulously analyzed a large volume of online gambling trajectories, considering the compound gambling behavior over hundreds of thousands of single bets. Applying their expertise, they have scrutinized the underlying gambling behaviors for any signs of developing risky behavior. The result is a completely objective assessment of individual customer’s gambling behavior.

We have developed a fast AI approach to ’digitize’ this evaluation process and we have demonstrated that we are able to evaluate online behavior just like the experts, with accuracy close to 90%.

Moreover, we identify different types of problematic behavior which allows us to generate targeted and individualized conversation guides that can be used in reaching out to customers either online or by an operator’s help-line staff.

The system has already been in use with a major operator for almost two years and has been very well received by customers. We believe this is due to a combination of early detection, where dialogue is efficient, and the highly individualized dialogue due to the tailored speaking guide generated by the AI and expert based system.

Our approach sets a new standard for responsible gambling operation as well as opportunities for operators to keep customers in a long and healthy relationship.



Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Reduction in remote gaming duty brings new opportunities, experts say …and more!

Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Reduction in remote gaming duty brings new opportunities, experts say …and more!

Welcome to the very first Gaming in Spain monthly newsletter. Our goal is to keep you updated on the latest developments in the Spanish gaming sector, with a particular focus on the rapidly maturing online market.

We hope you find our newsletter useful. If you have any questions or would simply like to get in touch, please email me at


Reduction in remote gaming duty brings new opportunities, experts say

In late June, the Spanish parliament adopted the government’s budget bill for 2018, which came into force on July 1. One of the bill’s provisions was the reduction of the most common remote gaming tax rate from 25% to 20% of GGR.

The rates for pool betting, exchange betting, raffles, and contests, which were calculated on different bases, are now harmonized with the main gaming duty of 20% of GGR. The tax rate for state-organized sports pool betting will remain at 22% of the total amount wagered.

For businesses “fiscally and factually based” in the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, the main remote gaming duty of 20% will be slashed by a further 50% to a mere 10% of GGR.

The bill explicitly stated that the change in gaming duty was made to convince unlicensed operators to “carry out their activities in the legal market.”

At present, over 30% of online casino wagers are being made with operators that are not licensed to operate in the Spanish market. From a player channelization perspective, the situation is even less favorable in the bingo vertical: almost 50% all Spanish online bingo revenue is currently being generated by unlicensed operators, figures compiled by H2 Gambling Capital show.

Unsurprisingly, industry insiders reacted favorably to the gaming tax rate reduction.

For instance, Owen Tustin, VP Gaming, Relationship Management at emerchantpay, believes that firms facing increased taxation or regulatory pressure should consider expanding into new international markets, including Spain:

“Operators looking to target a new market with huge potential for growth could do a lot worse than consider Spain. […] Recent figures showed 14.5% year-on-year growth in sports betting, and a staggering 51% increase in casino and 42% growth in poker. The launch of a shared liquidity network with France will surely see the poker vertical grow further still.”

Regulus Partners, a London-based consultancy firm focused on international gambling, considers the tax rate reduction a rare opportunity that is not to be squandered:

“The change will save operators c. €30m pa, which is not insignificant in a small crowded market dominated by a few large operators. If this windfall is recycled into better product, high-return marketing, innovation and harm minimisation then both the market and the government’s tax yield will sustainably grow – giving the remote sector a much-needed   positive model to point to.

If on the other hand the tax cut is split between more aggressive advertising and higher offshore profit margins, then the government is likely to revisit both the rate and the regulatory framework. The Spanish government has given its remote gambling sector a clear short-term positive; it is up to the sector to learn lessons from elsewhere and turn it into a long-term success story.”


The Spanish online market – a brief overview

Currently, 42 licensed operators are active in the Spanish online market, 40 of which offer casino games, 28 offer sports betting, and 8 offer poker.

GGR was €163m in Q1 2018, up 34% compared to the same period in the previous year.

Despite this impressive growth rate, further gains are expected, as the Spanish gambling market has not yet made good its losses suffered in the wake of the recent financial crisis. At present, combined online and land-based revenues are still 24% lower than ten years ago, according to Alejandro Landaluce, director of Cejuego.

The Spanish online sector appears to be particularly well-positioned to take advantage of the remaining market slack. Total e-commerce turnover in Spain increased by an impressive 28.1% year-on-year in Q4 2017, with gaming and betting taking up the top spot in number of transactions.


Spanish government considering revision of online sports betting regulation

Earlier this month, Minister of Culture and Sports José Guirao said that the government is considering a revision of online sports betting regulation.

The strong growth, in recent years, of online betting has increased concerns over problem gambling. Additionally, competition from online operators is seen as a major contributory factor in the decline of the performance of state-owned betting pools (quinelas), causing shortfalls in the funding of Spanish sports.

Spanish sports federation ADESP, through its president José Hidalgo, is therefore proposing that licensed betting online operators should help fund Spanish sports, for instance through a 1% duty on online betting turnover.


Spanish State Lotteries (SELAE) to “progressively abandon” paper tickets

President of the Sociedad Estatal Loterías y Apuestas del Estado (SELAE) Inmaculada García Martínez revealed that the state-owned operator intends to progressively abandon the sale of paper lottery tickets in favor of online play.

SELAE’s new app “LoteríasPRO,” based on a “mixture of tradition and innovation,” is an important step in that direction, said García Martínez

“This app represents the next step in the natural evolution of the way we interact with our customers; and offers added value by allowing them to participate in the draw from their mobile phones.”


Canadian investment group now looking to Andalusia to build “Eurovegas”

The Canadian investment group TripleFive has abandoned plans to build a gaming and leisure complex in the Extremadura and is now eyeing locations in the vicinity of Malaga and Cádiz instead.

“The business has to be profitable, something that is not possible in Castilblanco. It was not the right place,” said Paul Watson, head of TripleFive Europe, adding that he was hoping to invest as much as €3.4bn in the project.


Other News

Spanish regulator DGOJ is expected to finalize its draft legislation concerning gambling advertising later this year.


Internal squabbling at gaming operator Codere resulted in it pulling funding for its non-profit Codere Foundation.


Trade association JDigital condemned the looming ban on sports betting advertising in Italy.


Yggdrasil Gaming’s content and platform have been certified to launch in Spain.


Winamax has become the third operator to launch a combined French-Spanish online poker network.


Marathonbet signed a multi-year contract to become the new main sponsor of La Liga side Girona FC.


888poker has announced the signing of Spanish-born Ana Marquez to help grow the operator’s segregated online poker room in Spain.


Wanabet has added Draw Poker to its online game offering.


CalvinAyre offers a two-part video recap (1, 2) of the World Executive Gaming Summit, which took place earlier this month in Barcelona.


Barcelona footballer Gerard Piqué has closed down his social video game business that operated under the name Kerad Games.