Almost Half Spanish Online Poker Players Gamble On Unregulated Sites

Almost Half Spanish Online Poker Players Gamble On Unregulated SitesIn June 2012, Spain granted its first online gaming licence but in the intervening time online poker has failed to generate the kind of revenues envisioned pre-regulation. The troubling situation has been exasperated by the restrictive taxes imposed on gambling companies, and according to a Jdigital-commissioned report Spain’s licensed online poker businesses generated €234 million in gross gaming revenues throughout the whole of 2013, amounting to a €72.5 million net loss for the operators.
According to a latest report produced by Spain’s CODERE Foundation in collaboration with the Institute of Policy and Governance of the Charles III University, the dire situation can also be traced to inefficiencies in the way the Spanish  online gambling market is set up, and as CODERE explains:
“Forty-three percent of online players admitted doing so on websites that are not regulated by the Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ), and approximately 12.8% declared to never use a dot-es website for their games. Which means that they play exclusively on illegal sites.”
The situation in Spain is similar to that of France where a staggering 47% of online poker players also prefer more popular unlicensed websites where higher traffic provides gamblers with a more viable ecosystem in which to compete against other players. This is reflected in figures released by the latest CODERE report which states that last year the number of Spanish online gamblers fell by 1.1% to 1,150,000.
Naturally, the figures have played into the hands of those interested parties professing the need for an integrated pan-European online poker market. Presently, Spain, Italy and France have ring-fenced online poker pools, which ultimately have resulted in less attractive environments for players, and as French poker professional Julien “JunkyBoy” Ferey, explains:
“Regulars represent one of the most important components for a poker room: if they start to play less, the room starts to suffer. Profits start becoming smaller, and this usually reflects in smaller tournament guarantees..We don’t have many of those ‘whales’ that used to make many good players quite happy in the past. Right now there are a lot of experienced foreign players on dot-fr tables, and this means that the level got higher and making money is not as easy as it used to be.”
While the recent findings make the case for an integrated European market more pressing, there would appear to be little good news on its way, especially after France’s Rapporteur of the Committee on Economic Affairs Razzy Hammadi, stated earlier this year that “this would turn online poker into an uncontrollable ogre eating one market after the other.”
In the meantime, Spain’s most popular online poker site PokerStars.es with an average of 1,150 cash game players at any one time has indicated the direction the industry is now heading, having been granted a license to offer Blackjack and Roulette games by Spanish regulator DGOJ.  The decision by PokerStars to break with tradition and offer online casino games was described by PokerStars as meeting the “competitive realities of each market.”


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