A university study says Spanish gamblers cut back their spending in 2012 due to the country’s economic woes but more Spaniards are gambling online than official figures claim. Researchers at the Universidad Carlos III of Madrid‘s (UC3M) Instituto de Politica y Governanza said gambling’s share of Spanish leisure expenditures fell from 9.4% to 7.7% last year as gamblers cut back on the number of wagers made, the size of those wagers and the variety of gambling activities in which they partook.
Professor José Antonio Gómez Yañez said that while 85% of Spain’s population gambles in some form, “they do so in a very objective way” that usually revolves around social situations. Gómez Yañez also noted that the decrease in spending was observed across the socio-economic spectrum, and that despite the “demand for luck” increasing during tough economic conditions, gambling spending was close to zero in households hardest hit by the country’s persistent financial struggles.
Meanwhile, 4.42% of the population between the ages of 18 and 75 years old admitted to gambling online over the past three months. This figure, which equates to 1.47m Spaniards, is higher than that reported by Spain’s gambling regulator, La Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ). Professor José Ignacio Cases suggested the discrepancy was due to many of these gamblers choosing to patronize sites not holding a Spanish license, as these international sites offer both a wider variety of betting products and better rates of return.
The study notes that 21.4% of those who’d gambled online “had not registered on any gambling website recently, which suggests that illegal websites continue to be in operation.” Cases described the country’s 2012 online gambling law as “a somewhat belated and hasty attempt to regulate an existing reality … that for the public administration was too big to manage.”
Among online gamblers, 64.8% are male and 79% are under the age of 45. They are predominantly from upper or upper-middle class backgrounds and geographically concentrated in Madrid, Catalonia, Andalusia and Valencia. They spent, on average, €37 per month gambling online last year and more than half of online gamblers admitted a fondness for both sports betting and online poker.