Spain online gambling not quite dead yet; Ladbrokes delay Sportium migration

spain-online-gambling-sportium-lbapuestasSpain’s struggling online gambling market showed signs of life in Q4 2013, posting sequential revenue growth while falling short of Q4 2012’s figures. Figures released by the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) show overall revenue of €59.9m in Q4, 15.6% better than Q3 but 2.5% lower than Q4 2012. Stakes rose 13.9% to €1.47b as the number of new registered players rose 9.4% to 137k. For the year as a whole, total player registration in Spain rose 585k to 1.6m with average monthly active players coming in at 277k.

Sports betting revenue came in at €29.3m, good for 48.9% of Q4’s total revenue pie (up from 47% in Q3). Poker claimed 29.1%, split between cash games (19.3%) and tournaments (9.8%), followed by roulette (9.4%), blackjack (4.1%) and bingo (3.6%). The languishing casino vertical should get a boost in late 2014 assuming the government’s current push to authorize online slots doesn’t hit any speedbumps. Now if they could only do something about those taxes

Not interested in clicking their castanets anytime soon are Irish betting outfit Paddy Power, whose head of online Peter O’Donovan says Spain “doesn’t fit into” the company’s strategic vision. O’Donovan told eGaming Review that Paddy’s strategy was to study “attractive markets of significant size and invest in them heavily,” but their Spanish research suggested the “overall market size and the local competitive dynamic” made the country “not an opportunity we’re going for.” O’Donovan lamented Spain’s decision to allow incumbent operators to retain market share post-regulation and hoped the Netherlands doesn’t make the same mistake when it liberalizes its market.

Ladbrokes has put the brakes on migrating its Spanish players from the LBapuestas brand to the new Sportium site. The Sportium joint venture with Spanish operator Cirsa soft-launched its site in December, two months behind schedule. Subsequent problems with migration to Playtech’s Geneity sports betting platform have reportedly left Ladbrokes unwilling to chance things this close to the FIFA World Cup. (Similar delays in migrating Ladbrokes’ main online platform from Microgaming to Playtech have plagued the company’s overall situation.) Lads now intends to keep LBapuestas operational a while longer although it insists Sportium’s Mexican debut was “on track” to make the FIFA kickoff in June.