Bingo in Spain
A recent news report by Reuters indicated that Spain has awarded internet gambling licenses to Bwin.party digital and Sportingbet. The Spanish government hopes that online gambling will bring in more tax revenues for the debt-plagued Spanish government. Unemployment is also high, and recently reached at 20%, or 1 in 5. The new regulations and licenses will remove any regulatory uncertainty for operators. It has been estimated that about 59 gaming firms have applied for Spanish online gaming licenses. Licensed operators will pay a 25% gross profits tax.
Spain has raised about 70 million euros ($87 million USD) from companies that ran afoul of decrees governing online gaming. The government hopes that the new tax revenues from online gaming will help the country to address massive debt problems.
Bwin.party, which is the world's largest online gaming company, said that about 4% of the company's total revenues were generated in Spain last year. Bwin is well known in Spain because of the company's shirt sponsorship of European soccer champions Real Madrid. Bingo games in Spain are likely to move online as well as a result of this regulatory change.
Britain's largest bookmaker William Hill and British gaming company 888 Holdings said they had been granted Spanish gaming licenses. Several European online gaming markets have decided to regulate markets which will take internet gambling out of a legal grey area that has worried investors. This would open the door for bingo networks to set up shop in Spain. Nick Batram, an analyst at Peel Hunt, stated: "We are moving towards an environment that is highly taxed and highly regulated. That is where operators wants to be, although it will cost them money." Batram said that the licenses were good news for Spanish gaming operators, and that the gaming market will initially be crowded as companies fight for market shares.
Spain is a major sporting power in Europe, and analysts predict that by 2014, sporting sector revenues will reach 800 million euros. The estimate was made by gaming association Jdigital, and does not include estimated casino or bingo revenues. Spain's treasury said it was informing companies of the outcome of their license applications in Friday, June 1st. The treasury will not release a complete list of successful applicants until next week. The sites of successful applicants will go live next week.
Spain has been one of Sportingbet's biggest markets but the company was forced to cease operations because of a legal injunction won by Spanish casino group Codere. In a statement Sportingbet said "The grant of the eGaming license negates part of the injunction, which was imposed on Sportingbet's Spanish business on 27 March 2012 and thus allows Sportingbet's Spanish business at www.miapuesta.es to commence trading when this regulated market opens." Sportingbet has filed in court to have the injunction lifted.
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