December 29, 2012 : SPANISH PUNTERS PUSH UP THE ANTE
 
The liberated Spanish market is turning in some impressive figures
 
Spanish online punters are generating some impressive revenues for operators, according to a report this week in the internet publication El Pais.com, which reveals that one million players spent Euro 2.3 billion in the first six months of legalised online betting.
 
"The number of people gambling online in Spain has soared since the government legalised the activity, handing out licenses to around 30 companies last June," El Paid reports. "In the last six months, Spaniards have spent some Euro 2.3 billion, according to figures released by the DGOJ gambling directorate, the body that oversees gambling in Spain.
 
"In November alone, some Euro 461 million was wagered."
 
The number of internet gamblers has surged five-fold since the government approved more liberal internet gambling laws, soaring from 200,000 pre-liberalisation to just over a million….and the average punter is spending Euro 500 – Euro 600 a year on betting.
 
Some 40 percent of Spanish punters play poker online, generating Euro 952 million in the last six months.  Sports’ betting is also popular, generating Euro 861 million in revenues; casino gambling Euro 371 million, and bingo at Euro 24 million.
 
The average online poker player spends just over Euro 50 a week, while online casino players spend Euro 33, according to a study carried out by Online Gaming Observatory.
 
However, as is the case in the UK, the national lottery attracts the most online punters in Spain, with 69 percent of online gamblers buying tickets online, compared with 52 percent who bet on sports.
 
Men make up 68 percent of typical online gamblers, and are generally well-educated and aged between 25 and 44.
 
Spain's cash-hungry taxman will benefit from the increase in activity, with predictions that tax revenues from the sector will this year top Euro 140 million – well over the anticipated Euro 100 million, and almost double the amount collected from gambling taxes in 2011.
 
The government's economic experts forecast that online gambling in Spain will grow at an annualised rate of 10 percent, with total turnover expected to reach Euro 5 billion, which would generate around Euro 160 million at current tax rates.
 
Other European countries report less conservative turnover predictions, with Italy estimated at Euro 9.8 billion and France at Euro 10.2 billion.
 
The next big wave in Spain is likely to be the legalization of online slot action in 2013, which is likely to emulate the success achieved by similar moves in Italy this year.
 
El Pais notes that online gambling presently constitutes just 17 percent of the overall Spanish gambling market, but that its potential for growth is considerable.