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How to prepare for the Spanish Gambling Act

July 18, 2011 News & Reports

by Santiago Asensi

On May 28 the Spanish Gambling Act (Ley 13/2011 de Regulación del Juego) was published in the Spanish State Gazette, becoming enforceable the day after.

However, between then and the day the first licences are granted (or, at the latest, January 1, 2012) – the so-called ‘transition period’ – operators that are currently taking players from Spain will not be subject to sanctions for running their games.

That said, operators acting in Spain will have to pay taxes, as they will be required to be up to date with the Tax Agency at the time of filling their applications before the National Gaming Board, which is expected to happen in November.

According to the provisions enacted for the transition period, neither the media companies nor the operators that disseminate gaming advertising will be sanctioned, since the infringement and sanction regime is not applicable until the end of such period.

But the media and operators must be aware that the regulator has already anticipated that some kind of “status quo on advertising” will rule during this provisional stage.

The next question to ask is obviously: what should be considered as “status quo on advertising”?

From my perspective, the answer is: any advertising action prior to the approval of the law that was commonplace, such as banners on online sports news websites.

Secondly, since the infringement and sanction regime of the Gambling Act is not applicable, we must ask if the media and operators are empowered during this time with a kind of carte blanche that entitles them to carry out any kind of advertising?

The answer: absolutely not. The fact that the sanction provisions stated in the Gambling Act are not currently applicable does not mean that other penalties included in further regulations could not be enforced by the authorities in charge.

Furthermore, it is not advisable to enter into legal battles with the authorities prior to the opening up of the licensing process.
My view is that the inclusion of this regimen in the last minute of the regulatory process was one of the biggest achievements for the industry, as it ensures a smooth transition from the non-regulated period to the regulated one.

If it had not been included, Spain would be right now be suffering the consequences of a complete blackout period which, by the way, was something that was absurdly proposed by others.

Last but not least, it is thought that the secondary regulations will start to see the light during July.

Needless to say, a siesta will be almost forbidden for operators this summer, where rather than enjoying the extra hours of daylight, homework will need to be performed.

Santiago Asensi

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