Main conclusions from the ECIJA-GamblingCompliance workshop on “Online Gaming in Spain”
Under the title of Online Gaming in Spain, ECIJA, Spain’s leading firm on New Technologies and GamblingCompliance, leading international firm in gambling regulatory analysis, held on April 20th at ECIJA’s offices in Madrid, a workshop in which the new Spanish online gaming regulations were carefully analyzed.
The workshop, which brought together more than 50 delegates, including the main terrestrial and online gaming operators in the Spanish and European market, was moderated by Mr. Andrew Gellaty, editorial director at GamblingCompliance, who opened the debate on the key aspects at an international level applied to the Spanish market. Mr. Xavier Muñoz, Gambling & Betting partner at ECIJA, clarified those aspects within the frame of the Spanish gaming regulations.
During the first keynote, the new Director-General of the Spanish Gaming Regulator, Mr. Enrique Alejo, advanced some of the work and plans undertaken by the Directorate regarding the regulation and promotion of the gambling sector. The underlying message was very encouraging with regard to its promotion, with a clear will for supporting the sector, embracing its strongly innovative and creative nature and supporting its entrepreneurial spirit. All this without neglecting protection of users and the creation of a stable legal framework for operators.
When it comes to the news released by the Directorate-General, it is worthwhile noting the following:
- The publication of a Code of Conduct on online gaming publicity within the frame of the agreement signed with the publicity Association Autocontrol, which is scheduled for the end of May.
- The publication of the Statutory Regulations on Publicity, which are expected for the end of the year.
- The National Gaming Commission will not be created, being the Directorate-General of Gaming the public entity who will carry out its functions.
- The granting of the first gaming licenses is expected by mid-June.
- It may be the case that the licensing system is opened to any operator in the future, abandoning the closed system used in this first licensing process.
- Regarding the tax situation of those online operators which have been operating in Spain without paying taxes in this country, he stated that this is a tax matter, which must be clarified by the Spanish Tax Agency.
The workshop also included a keynote by Mr. Eduardo Antoja, Executive Vice-President of COFAR association and Mr. Sacha Michaud, President of JDigital association. Mr. Eduardo Antoja explained the difficult business situation affecting the terrestrial gaming sector and the need for a change in order to align this sector with the online gaming sector. In particular to allow a more varied offer for terrestrial gaming, foster the creation of demand, allow promotions, publicity and lower the tax burden. With regard to online gaming, he stressed the importance of finalizing with the current uncertain situation and granting the licenses immediately to those companies who have provided all documentation in due form.
Mr. Sacha Michaud, expert in the online industry and representative of JDigital, an association that brings together some of the main online gaming operators in Spain, reminded attendees that this is a new phase, where one of the most important sectors on ecommerce in our country is being regulated. ‘It is a great opportunity to create a dynamic and innovative sector on the Internet,’ he added.
Finally, Mr. Xavier Muñoz analyzed the legal aspects, focusing on the importance of the regulatory side in order to define the “commercial offer” of every operator and presenting ECIJA’s report “Legal Overview of the Spanish Gaming Market”.
The planning of this offer, its channels and publicity options are essential to any operator and, in this sense, Xavier stressed that, ‘the regulations in place are sufficient for the definition of a basic commercial offer. However, at a commercial level, there are still many doubts and pending issues on key areas. Those issues need to be clarified as soon as possible; although there is no doubt many will be defined during the first years of operation’.
The conference was closed with a debate with the industry representatives. These were concerned on the need for a balanced taxation, which allows operators offering more attractive games and betting options. Mr. Enrique Alejo emphasized the commitment of the Directorate-General of Gaming in supporting the industry entrepreneurs and working for the legal certainty within this sector.
All these questions will be updated and again analyzed in the forthcoming conference “El Juego en España” taking place next 16 of May in Casino Gran Madrid and organized by Unidad Editorial in collaboration with ECIJA.