Spanish online gambling grows in 2012 but Adelson says ¡Fuera!

TAGs: dgoj, Las Vegas Sands, sheldon adelson, spain

spain-2012-gambling-statisticsSpain’s gambling market underwent a slight contraction during 2012, according to the latest annual report published by the nation’s gaming regulator, the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ). Overall turnover dipped 1.1% to just under €26b, while gross gambling revenue fell 4.5% to €2.259b. The state-owned lottery and betting outfit Loterias y Apuestas del Estado accounted for the lion’s share of turnover (36%) and revenue (44%), followed closely by land-based slot machines, which enjoyed 33% of turnover and 32% of revenue.

The rest of the turnover chart went as follows: 7% for the ONCE charitable lottery, 7% for bingo, 6% for brick-and-mortar casinos, 1% for pool betting and 11% for online gambling (up from 6% in 2011). The revenue also-rans shook out this way: ONCE (12%), bingo (7%), casinos (4%), pool betting (0.6%) and online gambling (1.4%). The discrepancy between online gambling’s share of turnover and revenue can perhaps be summed up by the 90.9% rise in taxes the online sector anted up to the government in 2012.

Sports betting remains the average Spaniard’s preferred method of online gambling, accounting for 37.5% of revenue. Poker ranked second with 30%, two-thirds of which came from cash games. Casino games accounted for a mere 11% (those online slots can’t be introduced quickly enough) while bingo notched a 4% share. The DGOJ singled out online gambling as a “strong growth segment’ in an otherwise flat market.

The popularity of online gambling in Spain has provided yet another burr under Sheldon Adelson’s saddle. The Las Vegas Sands chairman, who recently launched a multi-channel tirade against the further spread of online gambling in the United States, has also sought to convince Spanish politicians of the need to turn off the online gambling taps before the country drowns in lakes of blood (or something).

spanish-apocalypse-adelsonAt Sands’ annual general meeting last month, Adelson suggested that the “tax revenue from internet gaming is miniscule” and ‘hardly worth the paper it’s written on.” Adelson is one of the world’s richest curmudgeons, so it’s perhaps understandable that he views the €133m the Spanish government collected via online gambling in 2012 as pocket change.

However, Adelson isn’t content to merely shake his cane at online gambling. Casino Choice’s Stephen Carter quoted Adelson saying he’d instructed his lawyers to convey a message to Spanish legislators that he was looking for “some more satisfaction on online gambling.” Specifically, Adelson felt that “we need that [online gambling] bill repealed” and suggested that if Spain wouldn’t accommodate him on this – and grant Sands’ EuroVegas resort-casino project in Madrid an exemption from the country’s public smoking ban – then “we’re not going there.”

Adelson will likely get his way on the smoking issue, as Spain’s government has reportedly tasked its legal advisors with finding a way around the smoking ban. That will likely involve ‘encouraging’ Madrid’s local government – which holds a 35% stake in EuroVegas – to pass legislation granting Sands a pass from observing the smoking ban. So, there you have it: online gambling is like an unflushed toilet, but to Adelson’s nostrils, the aroma of carcinogenic second hand smoke smells like… victory.


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