Spain's current gambling policy of allowing autonomous provinces to offer licencing agreements could be replaced by a more cohesive nation-wide system as early as next (2009) year, with taxes being shared by central government and the provincial regions.
The publication e-Gaming Review reported this week that the topic occupied a prominent place on the agenda at the most recent
quarterly meeting between federal and regional betting and gaming authorities in Barcelona earlier this week. Apparently senior representatives from the LAE (the National Gaming Commission), the Spanish tax authorities, the Home Affairs Ministry, the Ministry of Industry and the gaming offices of each of Spain’s 17 regions were involved in the discussions.
Xavier Munoz, a betting and gaming law specialist at the Spanish firm Legal Link told EGR that the equitable distribution of any taxes flowing from a regulatory regime, advertising controls, compatibility with European Union laws and the protection of vulnerable player groups was uppermost in the minds of delegates. In regard to the latter, a central registry of self excluded and excluded problem players was suggested, with a requirement for licenced operators to access this database to ensure problem gamblers remained barred.
The strict enforcement of a future regulatory regime, along with the prosecution of anyone operating in the Spanish market without authority was regarded as important.
This week's discussions herald a new era in Spanish online gambling, with a firm commitment to regulation rather than prohibition that will presumably be followed by detailed consultation and a drafting process that could see a system in place by 2009. Along with the French moves to open up formerly restricted markets, the Spanish decision has to be regarded as a significant development for the industry.
The federal and regional authorities next meet again in the autumn, by which time the drafting process should be underway