(Gaming in Spain Conference held in Madrid, June 9 2011)
First and foremost, the minister present (specifically, Juan Carlos Alfonso Rubio, Subdirector General de Regulación del Juego) confirmed which games are to be included in the first round of legislation – specifically, this now includes bingo. Prior to last week, it had been thought that they would class bingo under “lottery”, which would mean bingo would have fallen under the national lottery operator ONLY, so this is a good thing. However, slots are NOT included in this first round, so it’s uncertain how they’re going to deal with sites that offer slots alongside bingo (i.e. all of us!).
In terms of time-scale, the legislation is to be finalised mid-July and passed to the EU commission for approval. Applications for licenses are to be made from November 1st, and from Jan 1st 2012 licenses are required to operate in the Spanish market.
- Operators must have a permanent presence in Spain, as a Sociaded Anonima (S.A. – i.e. a public limited company) with a minimum capital of 100,000€
- The license application fee is also 100,000€ (non-refundable)
- A bank guarantee of somewhere between 1,200,000€ to 2,200,000€ will have to be lodged when making the application.
- Tax rates are 25% on NGR
- An additional tax of 0.1% on DEPOSITS, to finance the regulatory body (!)
- Taxes are to paid every 3 months, and must be kept up-to-date or license is forfeit
- Players’ identities have to be verified via their name, address, and National Identity number at point of registration against a government-held database
- No international shared liquidity
- Software/platforms have to be certified by as-yet-to-be-specified 3rd parties. Two kinds – game software and server security.
- Bonus policies are likely to be controlled, as they are viewed as “encouraging gambling”
- All operators must use .es domains
- Operators and their associates (white-labels, marketing partners, affiliates, payment providers, etc) who continue to operate in Spain after Jan 1st will be pursued using all legal means, including blocking of domains and/or IPs at an ISP level. In the case of payment providers, those that accept payments for an unlicensed operator will have their rights to trade in Spain removed
- Any partner/business found working with an unlicensed operator will be legally and financially responsible for the operator and subject to very heavy fines. I.e. it is the responsibility of anyone working with an operator to ensure that the operator in question is licensed, or suffer the consequences. Affiliates are running for the hills…
What’s still uncertain:
- Whether one license will cover multiple white-labels/network portals.
- Whether the bingo software itself must conform to the Spanish bingo definition i.e. draws from a series of 1944 predefined tickets, vs RNG bingo (which I believe is your case)
- Whether servers must be physically located inside Spanish territory
- Legality of slot machines in the period between first round and second round legislation
On the plus side:
- Online gambling becomes legal and “main-stream”, and players protected/reassured
- Advertising is allowed, including on TV
- Um, that’s it. In theory, due to the above two points, the market will grow and we will all benefit…
As you can see, this new law is a game-changer, it has implications for anyone and everyone operating at any level in the Spanish market, is going to be heavily enforced, and is coming into play in a very very short time-frame.
Many thanks to GamingInSpain for organising this enlightening conference 🙂