Friday June 1, 2012 :  SPANISH SURPRISE WILL HARDLY BE WELCOME
 
Having gathered in millions from would-be licensees, the Spanish regulator throws in a last-minute hand grenade
 
Major online gambling companies queuing up to obtain the June 1st operating licenses for the Spanish market probably received a nasty last minute surprise Thursday when regulator Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego ‘clarified' that its regulations include the requirement that all licensees purge their Spanish player lists and start from a zero base.
 

The move is presumably to ensure that everyone starts out on an even footing, and requires all players to close their accounts at Spanish-targeted .com operational sites, cash out and then initiate new accounts and re-deposit at dedicated .es sites.
 
Players will lose their VIP status in the moves, as operator interference is not permitted, and affiliates will be impacted too – it appears that their links will have to be cut.
 
The clarification specifically points out that operators may not be involved in transitioning players or affiliates to their new dedicated Spanish websites, and that includes tagging accounts to the original referring affiliate.
 
Although licenses will be issued today (Friday) the Spanish sites will not be operational until June 5, an arrangement at the request of the trade association JDigital to obviate any possible glitches having to be addressed over the weekend.
 
The latest imposition follows 4-year back tax demands by the Spaniards which have had major companies like 888 Poker, Sportingbet, Betfair and Bwin.Party running around paying out tens of millions of Euros in the expectation of being allowed to operate in the Spanish market.
 
Some ingenuity is going to be needed for well-established companies to hold on to their players as the purge of databases takes place in a short timeframe, but it will no doubt suit new Spanish operators getting into the market.
 
For Spanish players it will be inconvenient and perhaps irritating to have to jump through such bureaucratic hoops…but there may be worthwhile inducements to switch to newer operators.