Spain has a large community of British expatriates who prefer the sunny climate of Spain to the dreary climate of their homeland. It is a well-established fact that bingo is a part of British culture and many expats have taken their love for the game with them to Spain. Many expats not fluent in Spanish play bingo on the internet where most of the games are in English. On June 1st new regulations went into effect in Spain that may affect the online bingo games enjoyed by British expats in Spain.
On June 1st a new Spanish gambling law went into effect that bars companies without a Spanish online gaming license from operating in Spain. Unfortunately the new laws do not cover online bingo and the assumption is that the game is illegal. Spain legalized poker and other casino games but evidently forgot to add bingo to the list of regulated games. Sports betting is permitted but live in-play betting has been excluded and many believe that the regulation of betting exchanges could be delayed. Poker players will not be able to participate in international tournaments under the new Spanish online gaming laws. The poker player pool is restricted to Spain under the new laws.
Willem van Oort, CEO of GranViaOnline which is a marketing company specializing in Spain’s online gaming market, said that British online bingo players may not be interested in the games offered after June 1st. Van Oort told reporters “These people play on the UK-based sites and because of their residence they won’t be able to do this anymore. They might not be interested in Spanish language poker or casino. There are a number of expat high rollers living on the coast. But they may find it more difficult as the land-based companies who will now be setting up websites in Spain don’t really understand these people.”
When the new regulations were on hold there was a transitional period where online gaming companies that had not applied for a Spanish gaming license could continue to operate. If these gaming firms remain unlicensed they will be forced to withdraw from the Spanish online gaming market leaving many British players in limbo. Over 60 of the world’s largest online bingo and gaming companies have applied for Spanish licenses. Gaming operators and the Spanish government have high hopes for the Spanish online gaming market. A recent report suggested that by 2015 the Spanish online gaming market could be worth €680 million and the Spanish government hopes the online gaming tax of 25% will help the country address its massive deficits.