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The Need for New Regulatory Changes in Spain

September 20, 2013 News & Reports

by Santiago Asensi, Partner, Asensi Abogados

Just over one year has elapsed since the first online gaming licenses were granted in Spain and the latest figures published indicate a clear downward trend. It is certainly shocking to see how a situation of stagnation has been reached after such a short time in a new market whose growth figures were initially expected to have much greater room for improvement.

The background derived from the Spanish economic crisis has undoubtedly had a severe impact, as is reflected in the 2012 annual report and in the last 2 quarterly reports published by the DGOJ (Spanish initials for Directorate General for Gaming Regulation).

However, the crisis that Spain is going through cannot be the only answer to the problem. Factors such as the “welcome” offered by the ONIF (Spanish initials for the National Fraud Investigation Office [of the Tax Agency]) to the main market operators, with the application on online gaming of the inapplicable decrees from 1966 and 1977, under the threat of complicating those operators’ presence in our country, obviously affected the investments in advertising planned by operators for the launch year, once the market was regulated.

The recent statement by Minister García-Margallo where he announced regulatory changes concerning the location of gaming servers for Gibraltarian companies does not help much either. Apart from the fact that it is an issue which does not fall under the umbrella of his ministry, it should be remembered that the Law 13/2011 allows the operator to have servers anywhere in the planet and also that any legislative change which might be introduced in this matter with regard to a single territory of the European Union would imply a clear breach of the Treaty and, in this case, no decrees from the 60s could serve as the basis for the invention.

Luckily, the answer to the problem with the figures will come from the DGOJ, which must get down to work after a period determined by the landing in the sector, the internal work carried out for the approval of technical systems, and the changes in the most important management positions –the main consequence of which was a delay in the development of new regulations. It becomes essential to incorporate the exchange betting and slots offer into our regulations, apart from implementing the previously announced changes concerning the bet catalogue and the new online bingo modalities.

It will obviously not be easy to please everyone and some people will try to make us see that the speed of the spins in online slots must give the user enough time to make himself a “relaxing cup of café con leche*” before stopping or else we will run the risk of being invaded by extraterrestrial beings through our tablets, mobiles and computers. Nevertheless, there is no better way to protect consumers –it is the leit motif in the assignment entrusted to the regulator by our Law 13/2011– than putting an end to illegal gaming or reducing it to a minimum, for which it is absolutely necessary to carry out a modern offer which can also be technically competitive with that of illegal portals.



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