It took longer than anyone expected, but regulated online gaming is finally up and running in Spain. The country has issued licenses to nearly everyone who applied; 277 total licenses were given out with just three applicants having failed to make the cut.

Paella for Everyone

All major iGaming operators received a license in Spain including bet365, Betfair, bwin.party, and PokerStars. A total of 91 general online gaming licenses were awarded with another 58 companies being distributed another 186 singular licenses to spread only specific forms of iGaming. This approach would enable Spain to retract the casino license of a certain outfit while permitting them to continue offering sports-betting, for example.

Just three applications for a Spanish iGaming license were rejected. Spain’s generosity with awarding gaming licenses suggests they’re willing to give anyone and everyone the opportunity to generate revenues for the country which is facing serious financial struggles.

Back-Tax Bluff?

Part of the reason for repeated delays in the issuing of iGaming licenses in Spain was to await back-tax payments from major operators. The country was able to lure tens of millions of Euros out of the pockets of large operators willing to comply with a request to pay taxes on earnings from operating in the unregulated market since 2008 in hopes of receiving a license in the newly regulated market.

But Spain’s apparent willingness to allow anyone to operate in their market prompts the question: was their back-tax request merely a bluff and one that worked very well at that?

Had a company like bwin.party failed to cough up the €33 million requested by Spain, would they have received a license anyway? It seems possible that Spain’s back-tax invoices were a quick cash-grab to help the fledgling nation. Would they really have denied bwin.party the chance to offer gaming under their Bwin brand which is well-known to Spanish residents due to the company’s sponsorship of Real Madrid’s soccer team had the company declined to pay its back-taxes?

Up and Running

Legal iGaming is now off and running in Spain. Operators who were granted licenses have prepared for online gaming in Spain by moving operators over to their “.es” domain in order to comply with Spanish gaming law.

Several top operators including Betfair and 888 are already accepting wagers. Gaming association Jdigital estimates 2014 tax revenues from online gaming could net Spain an impressive €800 million. That could certainly go a long way towards aiding their mired economy.


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