Legalization in Spain: Updates
Online gaming in Spain has been regulated for six weeks now. Many of the 149 iGaming sites to receive a license are up and running offering services to Spanish customers on their “dot es” domains.
PokerStars Establishes Early Lead
Fueled in part by landing one of Spain’s biggest sports stars, Rafael Nadal, as their new spokesman, PokerStars has jumped out to seize nearly 60% of the Spanish online poker market.
According to PokerScout.com, PokerStars.es has sustained a 7 day average of 1,140 real-money players on the site. All other poker sites operating on the “dot es” platform combined have a 7 day average of just 792 real-money players. 888 Poker has an impressive lead over Party Poker and the iPoker Network for second-place behind PokerStars demonstrating that brand’s commitment to growth in the online poker industry.
In a message to investors posted on their website, Playtech is claiming early success thanks to Spanish regulation.
Said Playtech CEO Mor Weizer, “We are excited to see our licensees launch in Spain. The Spanish market is important to Playtech and a benchmark within the European regulated environment. We are confident that our innovative and fully-compliant casino and poker products will set the standard for others to follow in Spain.”
Brands using Playtech’s software in Spain include bet365, William Hill, and Poker770.
Despite Playtech’s boastful tone regarding their operations in Spain, their brands do appear to be struggling to generate a critical mass of players to iPoker.es. iPoker enjoys the title of second-largest online poker room worldwide but it’s Spanish version sits in a distant fourth place. Those sites may be currently focusing their marketing efforts on reaching players on the worldwide network in order to avoid being split off the top iPoker Network.
Who’s The Big Winner?
The big winner of iGaming regulation in Spain is the Spanish government itself. By extracting back-tax payments from major operators prior to granting licenses, Spain was able to infuse their hemorrhaging coffers with tens of millions of Euros.
Spain’s legalization of online gaming and subsequent back-tax cash-grab may have “desperation” written all over it, but the country’s debt crisis has become an alarming problem.
As Spain faces a growing debt problem and an unemployment rate of 25%, iGaming regulation has helped to generate revenues and create jobs in the economically ailing nation. Part of their iGaming legislation included a clause requiring operators to maintain an office in within the country.
U.S. legislators could be wise to follow in the footsteps of Spain to use iGaming revenues to address growing budget concerns. While gambling revenues are not a complete solution for Spain or the United States, they are able to provide jobs and revenues for a struggling economy.
An info-graph from Casino.org shown below highlights just some of the benefits the U.S. could gain from regulating brick-and-mortar casinos. The revenue benefits would be even more pronounced if forms of iGaming like online poker were legalized nationwide.