Gambling in Spain
Both land-based and online gambling in Spain is legal. The market volume in 2015 was estimated at 33 million EUR. All types of gambling are allowed. Most of the revenues (95%) come from land-based platforms. The National Lottery is played the most: it accounts for 55% of all bets. About 50 casinos are operating in Spain. The visitors prefer playing table games, even though profits from slot machines have been steadily on the rise as well. The region which has the most gambling activity in the country is Catalonia. Gambling legislation is embodied within the Spanish Gaming Act, which came into force May 29, 2011. The main regulator is General Directorate for Gambling Regulation - this is the authority that issues state licenses.
Online gambling in Spain
The online gambling industry in Spain has been showing a steady and rapid growth. 25 online operators were active by the end of 2015. The overall amount deposited by the players was 8 billion EUR. The gross revenue was 319 million EUR, or 3.7% of all amounts deposited. Casino games and betting is what is growing the most.
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The players have been depositing about 50% of all of the expenditures on betting and about 25% on casino games. Contests, bingo and poker do not attract great demand in Spain. However, the amounts that were spent on online poker in 2015 was 20% of all of the expenditures. Slot machines take up only 4.6% of all funds spent by the players. Online gambling is limited. What it means is that residents can only play in their own regions. But online operators can provide their services within their regions as well as all across the country. For this purpose they obtain the license at the federal level. Online operators also obtain individual licenses for each type of games. The list of licensed online games is the same as the one for land-based establishments: betting, raffles, contests, casino games, and so on. Tax brackets for online gambling are assigned at the federal level. The amount of payment will depend on the type of game:
- Sports betting pools - 22% of the overall revenue (turnover is the total amount deposited by all players to participate in the game)
- Fixed sports bets - 25% of the GGR
- Horse racing bets - 15% of the overall revenue
- Fixed horse racing bets - 25% of the GGR
- Raffles - 20% of the overall revenue For non-profit organisations the rate is 7%
- Contests - 20% of the overall revenue
- Other games (poker, casino games, bingo, slots etc.) - 25% of the GGR
Gambling Games in Spain
Despite a relatively small market share, the number of slot machines in Spain has been gradually increasing every year. 207,245 slot machines were operating in the country in 2015. Below is a list of the slot machines that are most played in Spain: Cleopatra, Jackpot 6000, Mega Joker, Gonzo’s Quest, Dead or Alive and Blood Suckers. Cleopatra is a five-reel slot by IGT, which has been enjoying ongoing growth in both Spain and Hispanic countries. Jackpot 6000 is a three-reel slot by NetEnt. The slot comes with 5 paylines and provides an opportunity to hit the jackpot for landing the Joker symbols. Mega Joker is an online slot by Novomatic. The slot comes with 5 reels and 40 paylines.
The highest payout is 400,000 credits for 5 Jokers. Gonzo’s Quest is a slot by NetEnt. The slot has 5 reels and 20 paylines. The slot also features cascading reels: winning symbols disappear and are replaced by new ones, like in a three-in-a-row game. A line of consecutive winnings will quintuple your rewards. Free spins will earn you the multiplier of x15. Dead or Alive is a five-reel slot by NetEnt. The slot features 5 paylines, two Wild symbols, a Scatter and a round of free spins. The highest multiplier is 2,500 for landing five Scatters.
Gambling industry with legalised back in 1977. The Spanish Gaming Act was the main law that was passed on May 29, 2011. This is the law that regulates both land-based and online industry at the state level. Local authorities are responsible for gambling within their regions.
The main regulator is General Directorate for Gambling Regulation. This organisation is a subordinate of the Ministry of Finance. Its functions are as follows:
- Proposal of bills on regulation of the gambling market
- Defining both functional and technical requirements towards the games
- Issuing licenses to the businesses that operate in more than one region
- Monitoring and inspecting the gaming industry, as well as imposing penalties for failure to comply with the law
- Preparation of reports, statements and research of the gambling market
Local authorities issue their licenses to businesses that operate within their regions. They are also the ones that monitor the operations and oversee the compliance with local laws. Spain has a total of 17 regions.
Licenses are issued for betting, casino games and other forms of gambling. Licenses are not issued for lotteries, because they are the monopoly of two organisations: Sociedad Estatal de Loterías y Apuestas del Estado (S.M.E.) Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles (ONCE) Licenses are subdivided into two different types: common ones and special ones. An operator must obtain both. The common license authorises betting, contests and other gambling activities. Licenses are valid for 10 years and can be extended for another 10 years. Special licenses apply to a specific game organised by the operator. They are issued only when the common license has been obtained. These licenses remain valid from 1 to 5 years. There are also licenses that cover the organisation of games at the federal level (all across the country) and the regional level (only in one province). The number of licenses issued is not limited by law. The issuing procedure involves checking how reliable the operator is and whether everything is in compliance with proper requirements.
Requirements towards licensees
The company must be based in the economic zone of the European Union and only be engaged in the gambling business. The company must be registered with the Spanish Commercial Register. Foreign companies are registered on a similar register in their home country. They also have to have a permanent representative in Spain. Registration with the General Registry of Gambling Licences is also mandatory. The operator must submit all financial and economic documents necessary, as well as all data on technical support and personnel.
Minimum liability license for betting and other games is 100,000 EUR. For the common license for contests the operator must pay 60,000 EUR. The cost of a special license may vary depending on the type of the game. These are the payments that the operator must make when obtaining the license: 10,000 EUR for each common and special license, 2,500 EUR for each license that has to be entered into the Gaming Registry and 38,000 EUR for certification of all licenses. At the same time the operators pay the tax for General Directorate for Gambling Regulation by January 31 each year. The tax amounts to 0.075% of the previous year's revenue. Gambling games that are defined by law and require licensing are subdivided into two categories: at the federal level and at the regional level. The lists of games of these two levels are a little bit different. These are the games regulated by the federal legislation: Sports betting pools, Horse racing pools, Fixed sports bets and bets on horse races, Contests, Poker, Bingo, Roulette games, Blackjack, Baccarat, Slot machines and extra games (that combine games of luck that require skills and knowledge. Their main purpose is entertainment.). Lotteries are only conducted by the two organisations listed above. The country's seventeen regions compile their own catalogues of games and gambling products that operators are allowed to provide. Each region sets its own licensing procedure. This is what the average list of licensed games looks like: French roulette, American roulette, Blackjack, Boules, Thirty and forty, Craps, Baccarat, Poker, Slots, Bingo, Raffles, Tombola, Charity raffles, Betting, Sport bets, Horse Racing and The Wheel of Fortune. All games are covered by their special licenses and individual regulations in compliance with the Spanish Gaming Act.
Taxes on gambling business in Spain
The amount of taxes will depend on the region where the company operates. Tax brackets for land-based establishments are approved by the regional authorities. As an example, here is the taxation scale for the Madrid region:
- 20% of the GGR (Gross Gambling Revenue) for most of land-based games
- 15% of the GGR for bingo
- 30% of the GGR for electronic bingo
- 10% of the GGR for online games provided within the region
- 13% of the GGR for betting
- 10% of the GGR for sports betting, horse racing and other types of betting
Taxation of games depends on the taxation base. Gross revenue is considered as the base. This is how it is calculated: the amount deposited by all participants of the game, minus the winnings that were paid out and the rewards. If the taxation base is lower than 2 million EUR, then 22% is paid. Then goes the scale in accordance with the size of the base. The maximum base is over 5 million EUR. This is when 45% of the gross revenue from the casino games is paid.
Developers of gaming software products
Spain is known for these developers in the gambling industry: CODERE Group, MGA and Optima. CODERE Group is a company that was founded back in 1980. The company develops gaming machines including slots and runs several casinos, bingo halls and sports betting points of sale in eight different countries. The company has its offices in Spain, Mexico and Uruguay. MGA is one of the first Spanish companies that started developing slots on the domestic market. The company was founded back in 1976. MGA develops the solutions and games for online casinos, runs bingo halls and manufactures the equipment for gaming clubs and casinos. Optima is a company that deals with solutions for sports betting and online casinos. The company's portfolio contains programs for running casinos and sportsbook businesses, analysing the data and integrating software products. The news about the gambling industry in Spain indicate that this area has been undergoing rapid development and steady growth. The online market has been expanding especially fast. The industry is well-regulated and provides the country with a constant inflow of resources.