Spainish Online Poker Continues To UnimpressApril 7, 2014 6:59 pm
The need for a pan-European online poker market would seem more urgent than ever as the egaming markets of Italy, France and Spain continue to shrink. No imminent breakthrough on the issue is likely, however, especially after a summit held in Rome at the beginning of this year failed to agree a liquidity sharing deal between regulated EU markets.
In addition, Spain is losing around 40% of its players to unlicensed, offshore sites according to an eGaming Review, but rather than address issues to make its online poker market more attractive to both players and gambling operators alike, the country is, instead, ploughing its energies into expanding its online gambling industry by adding online slots and exchange betting to its current offering of poker, casino products, and sports book.
Commenting on when the issue of shared player liquidity may again find itself on the agenda of the various European countries, Albert Agustinoy Guilayn from DLA Piper Spain, said: “Spain’s authority is currently dealing with the regulation of slots and the future reopening of the market..My perception is that this [shared liquidity] is not going to happen during the course of this year and it is more likely to happen during 2015.”
Nevertheless, some may question whether the country’s igaming industry would best be served by making its already existing structure more enticing than possibly repeating the same mistakes of the past all over again. Spain, for instance, has one of the most burdensome tax regimes of all online gambling countries, with the state imposing a 25% gross gaming revenues tax on businesses, forcing operators such as Ongame Network and Paf.com to quit the market last year.
In addition to the country’s online gambling industry shrinking 10% (MoM) to €55.4 million for the three months ending June 2013, Spain’s brick and mortar casinos have also seen their revenues drop of from €2.5 billion in 2007 to just €1.5 billion in 2012. Inevitably, online gambling operators will take these factors into account when making a risk to reward decision on entering the Spanish market, and at present that prospect isn’t looking at all promising.