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Reactions to Spanish Online Gambling Bill

By: Joe Valentino, Friday April 1st 2011
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After the Spanish Government's draft bill on online gambling regulation was finalized it was released to the public so that interested parties could react and propose amendments. More than 200 amendments have been received so far from political parties, trade associations and prospective online gaming operators in the Spanish market. The Spanish trade association AEDAPI, which has gone through the recommended changes, believes that most of them are meaningful and will contribute to the creation of a coherent and competitive regulatory framework. They will lead to a Spanish online gaming industry that will be attractive to operators.

AEDAPI has highlighted some of the better suggestions. Most political groups in Spain favor licenses being issued through an administrative system rather than issuing licenses through a tender procedure. A tender procedure may bring in more initial revenue but it could also keep out desirable operators who are not prepared to overspend.

The most encouraging aspect for the online gaming industry is that parliamentary groups have called for a reduced tax rate instead of the current proposed rate of 25%. They have said that a lower rate is essential for setting up an attractive market for foreign gambling operators by being competitive with other European Union markets. The proposed tax rate of 25% is one of the highest tax rates in Europe in the online gambling industry.

However, not all the proposals submitted are good or desirable. AEDAPI lists some amendments sought by political groups that would harm the online gambling industry in Spain. One is the call for a black period similar to the Danish attempt. A black period would require the applicants of online gambling licenses to cease all operations during a set period of time up to the granting of the license. It would also require the applicants to delete their databases and not engage in promotional activities such as sponsorships and advertising. AEDAPI points out the adverse effects of a black period. Spanish players would seek out illegal and unlicensed operators who could even fleece the players. AEDAPI advocates that the applicant operators should be allowed to offer their services till such time their application is rejected. The association estimates that over 90% of Spanish operators are serious operators who undergo audits and therefore will not harm the players' interests. AEDAPI also opposes the amendments requiring operators to set up their servers in Spanish territory.

Sacha Michaud, President of AEDAPI, said, "The fact that a large number of amendments have been submitted by the different political groups on the one hand indicates that there is still much work to do but on the other, that we're going in the right direction to build a positive framework."

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