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The Spanish Gaming Industry Is Playing for Very High Stakes

Michelle Wilson
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The market for internet gambling in Spain has grown dramatically in recent years; however, there have been new calls for increased regulation to prevent the emergence of gambling addiction.

The widespread availability of smartphones, as well as opportunities for mobile gaming, have contributed to the meteoric rise in demand for online gambling in Spain, at least in part. As a result, people have become more accustomed to the concept of gambling via remote means.

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Gambling is one of the few remaining industries that has been unaffected by the proliferation of digital technologies. Signing up for a betting site, syncing your bank account, and starting winning (or losing) money all take seconds these days. The market for online gambling is expected to be worth $94.4 billion (85.51 billion euros) by 2024, up from $45.8 billion (41.48 billion euros) in 2017.

This is an increase from the market’s value of $45.8 billion (41.48 billion euros) in 2017. Gambling has evolved into a socially acceptable hobby: according to a recent estimate by Casino.org, approximately 26 percent of the world’s population now engages in gambling activities.

The internet gambling industry, on the other hand, has demonstrated greater success in some markets than others. In Spain, for example, it has increased by 270 percent since 2014, even though the country’s overall economic growth has slowed. The recent success of the internet gambling industry is good news for betting companies, but it has presented regulators with several difficult questions to address.

A strong hand

The dramatic increase in online gambling in Spain can be attributed to broader cultural shifts. As smartphones and games designed for mobile devices become more popular, people are becoming more accustomed to the idea of gambling remotely. Meanwhile, sports, which account for a sizable portion of the gambling industry, are becoming significantly easier to enjoy via digital devices.

According to Grabyo’s 2019 Sports Video Trends Report, the majority of respondents (65%) watched sports content on their mobile phones the majority of the time. A betting website can be reached in a matter of seconds from this location; alternatively, a pop-up advertisement may take you directly there.

Concerns about player safety are becoming more prevalent as the number of people gambling online grows

“As important as the rise of mobile gaming in Spain has been the government’s realization a few years ago that taxes on online gambling were too high,” said Jason Ader, co-founder, and CEO of SpringOwl Asset Management, to the European CEO. “As important as the rise of mobile gaming in Spain has been the government’s realization a few years ago that taxes on online gambling were too high.”

“The reduction of tax rates in Spain has had a significant positive impact on industry expansion. When the gaming industry is overtaxed, it contributes less to state revenues than when taxes are kept at a reasonable level. Because of this, the government must tread carefully when dealing with the gaming industry. Spain is currently in an advantageous position.

Taxes on gross gaming revenue in Spain were reduced from 25% to 20% in 2018, providing new impetus to a sector that was already on the rise. Legislators had been eager to implement the policy change for some time, but slow economic growth earlier in the decade, combined with job cuts in other areas of the government, made it politically impossible.

The economy’s 3.1 percent growth rate in 2017 provided politicians with the wiggle room they needed to pass the tax cut. The country’s betting companies have enthusiastically welcomed the new regulation, and as a result, they have capitalized on existing demand to grow their brands and improve the quality of their services.

“There has always been a strong consumer appetite for online gambling in markets all over the world,” says James Ashton, Head of Content at Find My UK Casino. “However, when a market regulates and accurate data and stats can be gathered, it becomes clear just how popular the activity is – which is what is happening in Spain.”

“When a market is regulated and accurate data and statistics can be collected, it is clear how popular the activity is;” “When a market regulates and accurate data is available,” growth is also being driven by online gambling firms providing a significantly improved player experience “This includes offering a large variety of online casino and slot games, as well as localized payment options and customer service.

The growth of Spain’s online betting market has been capitalized on by both domestic businesses and large foreign corporations operating in the sector. Swertia, which obtained its license to operate an online gaming business in 2013, has attracted players by offering a diverse range of gaming options, including 10,000 live tournaments per month, while also emphasizing usability and graphical updates.

There has also been an increase in the number of non-traditional players in the betting industry. To capitalize on this rapidly expanding market, the Spanish sports news organization Marca has launched its own online bookmaker, Marca Apuestas.

Observing the established norms

The rapidly expanding online gambling market in Spain has increased the number of people calling for the industry to be regulated. At the beginning of this year, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party and Podemos, two of the country’s ruling coalition’s political parties, agreed that “urgent measures” were required to help govern retail and digital organizations. Those calls were now closer to being answered than they had been previously.

Gambling advertising restrictions and efforts to mitigate the negative effects of gambling addiction on society are likely to be at the heart of proposed changes.

“The primary area of concern in Spain (and other regulated markets) appears to be that as the popularity of online gambling increases, issues surrounding player protection come to the fore,” says Peter Murray, Director of Alexem Services, a consultancy firm with extensive experience working with the gaming industry.

“In general, the percentage of people who are harmed has remained relatively constant; however, as the popularity of online gambling grows, so do the actual numbers [of people who are harmed]. At the moment, the single most important issue confronting the industry as a whole is harm minimization and how the industry approaches the problem of responsible gambling. Spain is no exception, and the issue has recently come to the attention of both the political leadership and the regulatory body.

In response to Spain’s proposed new regulations, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) issued a statement in which it praised efforts to improve consumer protections in the industry while cautioning against a heavy-handed approach that could eventually push players toward unregulated operators. The statement was issued in response to Spain’s attempt to improve industry consumer protections.

“Nobody in the gambling industry wants problem gamblers,” says Ader, and they certainly don’t want you.”

Furthermore, I believe that every effort should be made to prevent people who have gambling problems from participating. Nobody in the gambling industry wants to see underage gamblers participate. But, with a confidence level of 99.9 percent, I believe there is extremely solid technology surrounding each of those areas that can prevent these people from participating in the market.

Ader used BetBuddy, a platform for responsible gambling analytics, as an example. BetBuddy uses data mining, machine learning, and the most recent research on gambling behavior patterns to identify and engage players who are at risk of developing gambling problems. A piece of technology like this could be more useful than comprehensive legislation, which, as the EGBA mentioned, could be harmful.

A potentially hazardous venture

The Spanish political class is currently debating whether or not to yield to public pressure. The gambling industry is thriving and has reported record earnings in recent years.

There is a strong temptation for a country that suffered significant economic losses as a result of the global financial crisis to avoid intervening in an economy that is thriving because of how well it is doing. On the other hand, ethical concerns and the push for increased regulation are growing at an alarming rate. It will be fascinating to see how the government attempts to balance competing priorities.

Concerns about the morality of gambling, according to Ashton, can be put aside as long as regulators, operators, and game developers continue to work to better protect players. “I believe that as long as they continue to take steps to better protect players, concerns about gambling ethics can be set aside.” “People will always gamble online, but by regulating and legalizing the sector, we can provide a venue for them to do so while remaining legally protected.”

Furthermore, markets such as Spain have a responsibility to ensure that help is readily available if a person develops a gambling addiction. Late in 2018, the government agency in charge of overseeing gaming in this country announced that compulsive gambling will be defined as a mental condition.

This is a significant shift that should be celebrated by both the gambling industry and gamblers. When regulators and other public authorities take the necessary steps to formally identify those who gamble compulsively, they can address issues that affect both individuals and society as a whole. At the same time, many people who gamble responsibly can continue to enjoy watching, participating in, and betting on their favorite games. That would be a situation in which everyone wins.