Online slots and betting exchanges landed in Spain

Spain

This article was produced by Olswang LLP, which joined with CMS on 1 May 2017.

On 30 July 2014, the Spanish Official Gazette (BOE) published the Ministerial Decrees (Orden Ministerial) approving the regulation of online slots and betting exchanges. This follows the announcement last year by the Spanish gambling watchdog (DGOJ) that it would authorise online betting exchanges and online slots once it had completed a period of public consultation. Earlier this year the DGOJ initiated the formal procedure which would enable it to authorise the offer of gambling products on the Spanish market.

One of the most remarkable consequences of the decree is the re-opening of the Spanish market to new operators (the market has been closed to new entrants since the issue of the first gambling licences in June 2012). New entrants will now be able to apply for a general licence (as general gambling operators) and a standalone licence for online slots and/or betting exchanges, which will be in force for a period of five years, renewable up to the term of the general licence.

The decree has also provided clarity in relation to some outstanding questions.  In particular, in relation to the limits on stakes, the maximum/minimum wagers may be established by each gambling operator; although users will not be able to risk an amount higher than the balance of their account at the beginning of the session.

The Spanish watchdog also set out significant measures designed to encourage gambler protection: gamblers must choose the maximum wager and duration of play at the beginning of each session (which cannot be changed during the course of the game). Once the player has overrun the wager or duration limits for the session it must terminate automatically. In addition, when users attempt to initiate a new online slot session within 60 minutes of their previous session the operator must inform the gambler of the consequences of compulsive gambling and the importance of gambling responsibly.

The Ministerial decrees will come into force once the competitive tendering process for the award of new general licences has been completed by the DGOJ.