Spain regulated online poker back in June 2012 and expected the market to expand significantly and bring in much needed revenue in the form of taxes. However, in setting up and establishing regulations that govern online gambling, Spanish authorities imposed a number of restrictions both on online gambling companies as well as online poker players. In doing so, the Spanish authorities made legalized online poker less attractive to the average poker player.
This is evident by the lack of growth and interest the online poker market in Spain has generated over the past 2 years.
The numbers are well short of the initial expectations and a recent Jdigital– commissioned report confirmed that the licensed online poker industry in Spain brought in around €234 million in gross gaming revenues during 2013. The strict tax regulations imposed on online gambling operators have resulted in a net loss of €72.5 million during 2013 and have severely hampered their efforts in marketing and promoting online poker in Spain.
The CODERE Foundation in Spain teamed up with the Institute of Policy and Governance of the Charles III University to study the online poker market and examine reasons as to why the market has fallen short of initial growth expectations. The research reveals that there is indeed a significant market for online poker in Spain but players are not impressed with the setup of legalized online poker websites. Instead, they prefer to play on unregistered poker websites, even though they know it is illegal because it gives them more freedom and the opportunity to have a better online poker experience.
CODERE released a reported which stated that
Forty-three percent of online players admitted doing so on websites that are not regulated by the Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ), and approximately 12.8% declared to never use a dot-es website for their games. Which means that they play exclusively on illegal sites.
France is also facing a similar situation as the online poker market has faced a significant decline. There are calls for a pan-European online poker network to be established which will see the likes of Spain, France and Italy join forces in an effort to enlarge their online poker database and player pool, thereby reviving online poker and hopefully increasing overall revenues.
However, it will take more time for a strong and proper pan-European poker network to be established.
In the meantime, the number one online poker website in Spain, PokerStars.es has decided to offer multiple games like Blackjack and Roulette in order to bring in more revenue and address the “competitive realities of each market.”