The Spanish internet gambling market has been open since June 2012 when the government awarded 53 online gaming licenses. Since then the online gambling market has been one of the few bright spots in the nation’s economy. Spain is still facing high unemployment and massive deficits. The Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that about 1 million online players in Spain spent €2.3 billion euros on various games during the first six months of legalization. The online gaming sector has generated about €88m million in gross gaming revenues for the holders of the country’s 53 licenses.
The paper also reported that three license holders, PokerStars, Bet365 and Bwin.party, are making much more money than the other license holders. The government expects to take in €140 million from the online gambling sector in 2012, about €40 million more than they had projected. Currently online gaming accounts for 17% of Spain’s total gambling market and experts expect that figure to increase after the introduction of online slots this year.
The most popular form of gambling in Spain is the lottery and 69% of Spanish gamblers said they had purchased lottery tickets on the internet. Lotteries are a big business in Spain and the El Gordo lottery held annually at Christmastime is a beloved national event full of pageantry. El Gordo also awards some of the largest lottery jackpots on the planet. Sports betting was the second most popular form of gambling and 52% participated. Poker came in third with 38%. Poker came in first in generating turnover with a 40% share worth about €952 million. Sports betting was again second with €861 million, casino games were third at €371 million and online bingo generated €24 million.
Revenue wise sports betting came in first with €43.5 million, poker was second with €30.2 million, casino games generated €10.5 million and internet bingo came in last at €3.7 million. 68% of all Spanish gamblers are males in the 25-44 age group and usually have a university education. Since regulation the number of online gamblers has increased fivefold. Not everyone is happy with the thriving internet gambling market. The stodgy socialists believe current regulations are too lax and are a “safe passage for corruption.” Despite the objections internet gambling is here to stay in Spain!