Spain approves the introduction of online slots, exchange betting

spain-online-slotsSpain’s gaming regulator has announced it will allow the country’s licensed online gambling operators to offer slots and exchange betting, although no specific launch date has been provided for either product. Friday’s announcement by the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) comes after two lengthy rounds of industry consultations, in which Spain’s licensed online gambling outfits pleaded to be granted the right to offer slots and the country’s land-based gambling operations pleaded to keep slots offline.

In the end, the DGOJ decided that their prohibition against online slots had accomplished little beyond funneling slots fans into the arms of unlicensed gambling sites. CFO Martin Weigold has estimated the company’s online casino revenue took a €10m hit in the first year of operating under a Spanish-issued slots-free license. The DGOJ’s decision was no doubt influenced by recent figures from Italy, where the introduction of online slots has been credited with boosting gaming revenues by 80% and boosting the government’s tax revenue right along with it.

The next step in the process will be the publication of draft regulations for both slots and betting exchanges, followed by yet another public comment phase. The regulations will then be revised and submitted to the relevant government departments for approval before assuming their final form as a Ministerial Order. All told, the first slots licenses could be issued before the year is through.

The process of approving betting exchange regulations is expected to proceed a little more swiftly, given the more limited scope. The chief beneficiary of this change will of course be Betfair, which has been lobbying hard to be able to offer its flagship product to Spanish punters. The news didn’t have much effect on Betfair’s stock price, which closed Friday up a single penny to 805p, but the promise of an improved Spanish revenue stream could compel CVC Capital Partners to boost its offer to take over the betting exchange.