Spanish market dominated by handful of firms; illegal operator blacklist grows


spain-online-gambling-blacklistA day after co-CEO Norbert Teufelberger was detained by Belgian authorities for continuing to do business with Belgian punters despite Belgian gaming regulators and courts ordering to cease doing so, the online gambling firm remains equally insistent that it knows better. “ maintains the position that it is acting and has always acted in compliance with applicable laws.” The legal team is apparently of the opinion that Belgian (or German) laws they don’t like aren’t applicable to their business, and thus can safely be ignored. (Perhaps not surprising, given that’s legal team contains a disproportionate number of graduates of the Monty Python Argument Sketch “No It Isn’t” School of Law.)

Passing strange, then, that would regard US online gambling laws as inviolate as the laws of gravity, when the World Trade Organization has repeatedly ruled that the US stance is an affront to international trade relations. Could it maybe have something to do with the US simply being more proactive in locking up online gambling execs whose companies fail to comply? Hmm… In the meantime, has received several suggestions for Teufelberger’s official pirate nickname, with ‘Norbeard’ the current staff favorite.

While the week’s events may have convinced you otherwise, actually does operate legally in one or two jurisdictions, including Spain, where they are one of three companies dominating the newly regulated market. eGamingReview claims to have seen figures indicating that, PokerStars and Bet365 accounted for €47m of the total €78m in gross gaming revenue generated in its four months since Spain’s new regulatory conditions took effect.

Interestingly, Spain requires its licensed operators to ante up 25% of their gross gaming revenues in taxes, yet in the speech Teufelberger gave in Belgium shortly before he was detained, he claimed that “taxation of gross gaming revenue above a level of around 20% leads to a situation where doing legal business in any given market becomes untenable as taxation is effectively leveled at a ‘rate of no return.’” Fair warning, Spain… Norbeard’s about to hoist the jolly roger.

Sports betting currently makes up 47% of the Spanish gambling market, poker is 35.9% and casino is third with 17.8%. (Spain presently doesn’t allow slots, so casino is 60% roulette, with blackjack about half that and bingo under 10%.) Bet365 controls 60% of the sports betting business, is second with 20% and Sportingbet and William Hill account for 10% apiece. PokerStars owns 65% of the poker action, with 888 second at 20% and at 16%. 888 leads the casino pack, followed by, Gamesys’s Botemania bingo and Bet365, who together account for 70% of the casino pie.

While Spain’s licensed operators struggle to make a go of the tax-heavy regime, Spanish authorities are going the full Belgium on the unlicensed companies still serving Spanish punters. Twelve such operators – 12Bet, Betsson, Gaming VC (via Betboo), Ltd., Come On Europe Ltd., DreamMakers Gaming Tech, Globet International Sports, Media Entertainment’s, Midasplayer Ltd. (aka, RM Royal Media Group NV, Tempo Gaming Ltd. and UWin Poker – have received warnings from the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGoJ) to close their Spanish-facing operations within 10 days or face fines of up to €50m.

Finally, do enjoy this video clip of Teufelberger’s recent discussion with Belgian gaming regulators.