Update: Spanish Congress of Deputies Approves Gambling Bill

Update: Spanish Congress of Deputies Approves Gambling Bill Big step for the amended bill

After getting over 100 amendments, a regulatory framework for remote/interactive gambling has finally been approved and adopted by Spain's Congress of Deputies. Apart from providing legal framework, the act sets a tax regime for gambling online, establishes a licensing system for operators who want to operate in Spain and includes a number of safeguards to protect minors and problem gamblers.

In addition, it envisages the creation of a Council for Gaming Policy, representing each of the autonomous regions, and a National Gaming Commission, which will act as the gambling sector regulator. Also, it allows a transitory period of a year, until Jan 1 2012, enabling companies to legalize their situation and activities if they are engaged in any sponsoring deals or advertising in the press at the moment.

The bill creates a licensing system as well, and all Internet gambling firms that want to operate in Spain need to obtain the 18-month valid license.

It was stated by Deputy of CiU in Congress, Josep Sánchez Llibre that the "consensus" reached in the processing of the new law is rather satisfying, and that the "great benefit from this new sort of game will be the autonomous communities, because much of the new tax proceeds will be distributed to the autonomous regions". Trade associations RGA and AEDAPI were also among those who welcomed the adoption of the Act, but they still stressed their have reservations on key areas of the legislation.

According to the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), the legislation “goes against the EU principles as it restricts operators from offering their products across the EU if they don’t obtain a Spanish license.” In addition, it pointed to its concern over the excessively high tax rate compared to other European countries.

The RGA CEO Clive Hawkswood stated: “We appreciate the fact that, unlike some other European countries, Spain has not adopted legislation in blatant breach of EU law. We believe that this legislation is a step in the right direction but it’s still too early to make an assessment. We hope that, through the implementing decrees, the Spanish Government won’t miss the opportunity to create a valid model in Europe”.

The act still needs the EU’s approval, and other relevant legislative issues will be published before the implementation can begin. Also, it is assessed that license applications and approvals will be applied near the end of 2011 and in 2012.

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