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Debate over Spain's online gambling proposals

Spain has long been one of Europe’s online gambling backwaters, with antiquated gambling laws that don’t quite fit into this age of increased Internet gaming activity.

That may be changing, but perhaps not for the better. In recent weeks, the country has proposed a series of amendments and laws that would change Spanish online gambling and, theoretically, bring it into the 21st century, alongside its EU neighbors like France and Italy.
Same old story
But those proposals could put Spain in conflict against larger EU online gambling regulations, making the story especially timely given the European Union’s recent study seeking to standardize online gambling laws throughout all member states.
The Spanish laws would go against that trend. As EGR points out, some Spanish lawmakers want to implement some new features, like:

  • A blackout period where offshore companies aren’t allowed in the Spanish igaming market;
  • A requirement that licensed online gambling companies must have data servers within Spanish borders; and
  • A cessation of online gaming activity during the licensing review period.

The Spanish Association of Online Gamblers (AEDAPI) was quick to respond to the proposals, suggesting that the rules and the blackouts may “encourage players to use illegal operators until the period was over,” as EGR reports.

“Avoiding close of business will ensure that in the very first day the law comes into force, Spanish users will be playing in legal enterprises,” the group added.
The AEDAPI also called out the plan to force online gaming operators to based data servers in the country, stating that move might “undermine the attractiveness of the Spanish market.”
The proposed tax rate is also under fire. Overall, though, the AEDAPI is keeping a positive outlook towards the imminent igaming regulations.
“The fact that it has submitted a large number of amendments by the different political groups on the one hand indicates that there is still much work to do and, secondly, we’re going in the right direction to build a positive framework,” AEDAPI president Sacha Michaud said.
Outcome still uncertain
Given the blowback from those proposals, it’s likely that the amendments and the proposed online gaming regulations themselves will be tweaked before becoming law.
“More than 200 amendments have been received so far from political parties, trade associations and prospective online gaming operators in the Spanish market,” notes Casino Advisor.
“We do not know as yet what will be the outcome of the new legislation when it passes the legislative process and receive the EU feedback, since it is mandatory to go these two processes in order to obtain a final legislation framework,” opine online gaming industry and legal pros Willem van Oort and Pedro Lopez in an EGR editorial.
“From a conceptual perspective, the situation of Spain is much different to France, Italy, Belgium, Denmark; just to mention a few examples already known, because Spain has a very strong established land based gaming industry, which covers all the segments of products and channels, except the online and other remote channels now being regulated,” van Oort and Lopez conclude.
Nonetheless, Spanish lawmakers are eager to enter the online gambling modern age, along with the UK, France, Italy, and even the Netherlands. And when that happens, expect the EU market to move even farther ahead of the United States and other competitors.