A Step Forward for Regulated Online Gambling for Spain

Council of Ministers has approved draft legislation

The excruciatingly slow progress of the Spanish government towards the full regulation of gambling moved forward another step last Friday when the Council of Ministers approved a draft of the new Gambling Act.

Spanish Gaming News reports that the future Gambling Act will regulate all forms of gambling, especially new-technology forms such as Internet, interactive television and mobile gambling.

The draft legislation has elements designed to protect gamblers, bar under aged and problem players and prevent crimes such as fraud or money laundering. It also includes a new tax on operators, and makes provision for 5 year licenses.

Spanish government officials said that the new legislation will give a boost to legal economic activity, and modernise the current system by converting the state lottery and betting agency (LAE) into a privatised entrepreneurial company.

The Minister of Finance stressed at a press conference after the Council of Ministers meeting that although gaming regulation is a matter for Spain's autonomous provincial communities, there is a need of a federal-style common regulatory framework. This includes the appointment of a national regulatory body similar to the present National Gaming Commission, but with a large representation for the autonomous communities.

The draft calls for the imposition of a special tax, most of which will go to the autonomous communities concerned.

Conservative estimates are that taxes on gambling will yield some Euro 200 million a year for state and community coffers. However, Sacha Michaud, president of the Spanish internet sports betting association Española de Apostadores Deportivos por Internet (AEDAPI) warned that although the legislative proposal appeared positive, it would be unwise to set taxation at too high a level.

Elena Salgado, Second Vice President and Minister of Economy and Finance, said: “This is the beginning of a project that will be followed by a time of discussion [... with] state governments, as well as with interested parties and trade associations.” she said in announcing the legislation.

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