Spanish online gambling licences were initially to have been granted early in 2012 but now a new deadline of the 1st of June has been announced by the Spanish government. There have been several reasons for the delay including court cases involving Spanish gaming operators and foreign operators, the large number of applicants for the licences and staff changes in the regulator’s office. Many in the online gaming industry are uncertain as to whether the Spanish online gambling regulator E. Alejo, will be able to meet this later deadline of June 1st.
Gambling has been legal in Spain for over 150 years but was mostly limited to lotteries. The industry has always been under state control. In 1977 games of skill were legalised and games of chance such as slot machines became legal in 1981. Since 2008 each of the 17 Spanish regions can issue its own gambling licences. There are over 40 land based casinos in Spain and statistics show that the Spanish gamble more than the British. There are discussions ongoing concerning the building of a super casino, EuroVegas by Sheldon Adelson the casino magnate, on a site near to Barcelona. The resort estimated at 17 billion euros will include 6 casinos, golf courses, 12 hotels, restaurants and theatres. (See article: Las Vegas Style Casino Complex for Spain).Spain started to move towards legalising and regulating online gambling in 2002 and since 2009 efforts were increased to legalise this growing market. The Spanish Gaming Act was passed in May 2011 paving the way for the issuing of online gambling licences to EU based operators and regulating the online and mobile gaming market for the first time.The recent announcement about the extended deadline being the 1st of June also made clear the fact that once the online gambling licences are granted that operators can offer their online services straight away. Fifty nine online gambling operators have applied for Spanish online licences and several of these companies are watching carefully for the deadline to be reached this time as they are paying out large amounts to keep their online ventures ready to be launched as soon as they get their licence. Holders of Spanish online gambling licences will be hit for a gross profits tax which at 25% is one of the highest in the European Union.