Thursday June 7, 2012 : SPANISH ONLINE GAMBLING MARKET OPENS
Major operators pile in to Spain, undeterred by delays, retro-taxes and transitioning uncertainties
After months of delays and missed deadlines, last-minute retro-tax hikes and uncertainties regarding transitioning arrangements, the regulated online gambling market in Spain finally kicked off June 5th with major operators like PokerStars, 888, bwin.party, Ongame, Poker770 and bet365 all launching .es dedicated websites into the segregated market, for now at least isolating Spanish players from international competitions.
Initial reports indicate that the first day went well, despite uncertainties created by a last minute ‘clarification’ from the regulator requiring the purging of all player databases, and the need for players to sign up anew on the .es websites, with operators forbidden to participate in transitioning their players.
The confusion was compounded when it was subsequently reported that operators had been informally advised that they would have until June 15 before the ‘transitioning’ rule comes into effect, apparently opening a window for them to become involved.
That seemed to be the case at Pokerstars.es and Party Poker.es, where Spanish players were re-routed from their .com log-in to the new .es websites, and it appeared that VIP points and balances were being transferred over without a problem.
Pokerstars players noted that Zoom – the popular speed poker derivative – was not yet available, and that the .es site is currently offering only stakes up to Euro 0.5/1.
The Ongame network, recently acquired by Shufflemaster from Bwin Interactive, was also present through four skins operated by PAF and Goalwin, and Microgaming was represented through the launch of the Ladbrokes site LBapuestas and a CIRSA operation. 888poker.es also made its debut.