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Legal overview of the Spanish online gaming market

19 April 2012

Xavier Muñoz Bellvehí (xmunoz@ecija.com) Parnter of Gaming & Betting at ECIJA, goes through the legal aspects of the new Spanish online gaming market.

INTRODUCTION 

On May 27, 2011 the Spanish Gaming Law 13/2011 was approved. After that, a series of statutory regulations started to be published. On November 16, once all the main regulations had been passed, the Spanish Government published the official rules for the licensing administrative procedure (similar to a public tender). The deadline for the submission of the license applications was set for December 14.

In the middle of the process above, on November 20, 2011, Spain went through a process of general elections and, as a result of that, a new party came into power (the conservative party, Partido Popular). The new Government is also in favour of liberalizing the online gaming market; however, it will want to do certain things on its own way.

As an initial step, on December 30, the entrant Government issued some regulations stating that the punishing regime (which particularly affects those operators currently offering online gaming services in Spain) would enter into force as of next June 30, 2012 or at the time when the first license is granted. This is a significant change since the punishing regime was foreseen for entering into force in January 1, 2012. This change gives the new Government a 6 months extra period during which it will review all the license applications submitted, ensure the due homologation and certification of all gaming platforms, issue any pending regulation and modify any particular aspects in the existing regulations.

As we stand at the moment, around 60 operators have applied for their licenses. Those applications will be reviewed and the licenses will be granted or denied during the next coming months. The new Government expects to grant the first licenses during June 2012. In spite of the tortuous Spanish licensing process, at the moment we have all the main regulations in place and a quite well defined legal framework. Of course some issues are still pending, additional regulations are necessary and the Spanish Gambling Regulator (“SGR”) will have to monitor and guide the market in many ways; however, operators have a reasonably clear framework to start their business. From a commercial point of view, they should put their efforts in rapidly understanding and making the best out of this framework.

Read the report here: Legal overview of the Spanish online gaming market