Spain will issue its first online gambling licenses on Friday ahead of the market’s official opening on June 5, but apparently the ink isn’t quite dry on the fine print. PokerFuse was the first to spot a last minute “clarification” posted to the website of Spanish gaming regulator Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) Thursday night that essentially compels operators to wipe their player databases and commence Spanish operations from scratch. Players will have to cash out their existing accounts on operators’ .com sites, set up fresh .es accounts and redeposit – no operator-assisted transitioning allowed. Accounts linked to specific affiliates will have those links severed and poker players will forfeit their current VIP levels. In short, it’s Year Zero in Spain. (Notice how they failed to mention any of this until after most operators had settled their back tax issues. Chinga tu madre, pendejo…)
Local operators like Codere will cheer the move, as it creates a more level playing field for companies that have yet to establish a strong online presence. But ‘level’ is not exactly how Sportingbet has viewed the field ever since the Commercial Court in Madrid granted Codere an injunction against Sportingbet’s Miapuesta.com and .es sites that took effect March 27. Despite having agreed to pay the Spanish government €17.2m in back taxes, Sportingbet’s unresolved legal tiff with Codere may delay its regulated Spanish market launch until (at least) mid-June, meaning the company could miss out on a sizable chunk of lucrative Euro 2012 betting action in football-mad Spain while it waits for a court date to overturn the injunction. Gracias por nada, amigo.
But, hey… Look on the bright side. Spain’s troubled banking sector is teetering on the brink of collapse and without an estimated €120b bailout from the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, the country’s financial system will grind to a halt and no Spanish operators will be doing any Euro 2012 business. Hey, you wanted a level playing field… Olé!