FEMARA, the Spanish association of land-based gaming and amusement with prizes (AWP) operators, has formally expressed its opposition to the introduction of online slots. Spain’s gaming regulators are mulling the pros and cons of expanding the country’s online gambling options to include slots and betting exchanges, and have solicited opinions on the subject (for the second time) from stakeholders. FEMARA has concluded that the introduction of online slots would imperil the 30k jobs that depend on the success of the land-based gaming machine business. In related news, the Spanish Association of Imperiled Postmen wants the government to ban the use of email and the Spanish Pony Express is calling for the eradication of the telephone.
The argument that online gambling has contributed to the decline of the offline gaming industry in Spain is hardly new. Spanish gaming industry news site AZARplus reported that the nation’s gaming industry had shed 45k jobs since 2008, and an EPA Labor Force Survey indicated the number of people earning their livelihood via the gaming industry dropped 25% in the past year alone. But that decline isn’t out of line with Spain’s overall unemployment rate, which has risen from 11.3% in 2008 to 25% last year. So the bigger problem appears to be an economy in freefall, not freedom of choice in online gambling.
As for what Spanish gamblers are doing online, a recent survey by IPSOS of 1,000 adults with internet access determined that an impressive 35% of Spaniards gamble online at least once a month. The average sum wagered per month was €42. Men were far more likely (64%) to gamble online compared to women (36%), and the number of men who exclusively gamble online (61%) was also significantly higher than their female counterparts (39%).
Some 56% of players copped to playing casino games online, with poker in second place with 47% and sports betting at 29%. Football, basketball and tennis are the most popular forms of sports betting. Mobile betting is still a work in progress, with just 20% of gamblers having used their smartphones to place a wager.
In terms of brand recognition, the LAE state lottery was recognized by 48% of those surveyed. Bwin’s sponsorship of Real Madrid helped make it #2 on the list with 40%, just edging out PokerStars at 39%. Combined, these three companies account for 76% of all online gambling spending (LAE-40%, Stars-20%, Bwin-16%).