The online poker market in Spain has been in decline for the past couple of years and there does not appear to be any hope of it being revived in the near future. Ever since Spain regulated its online poker market in 2011, things haven’t gone as per plan. Since then, Spain’s online poker market has declined by nearly 50%.
The three biggest online poker operators in the Spanish market are PokerStars.es, 888.es and casinogranmadrid.es. Casino Gran Madrid recently announced that it has decided to shutdown its online poker portal in Spain even though it was the third biggest player in the Spanish market. The company stated that due to the current state of the Spanish online poker market it had no choice but to shutdown its website as it found it extremely difficult to operate a “attractive product in a hostile environment.”
The Casino Gran Madrid sent out an email to its players informing them that its online poker website would be shutdown until further notice. They had the option of retaining their funds and using the same at Casino Gran Madrid’s online casino. Players who preferred to withdraw their funds were advised to convert their loyalty points before the 31st of August as after that those points will be wiped clean.
The casino also tried to reassure its players by informing them that
Poker at the Casino Gran Madrid does not stop. You will continue to have the best tournaments and live cash games in Casino Gran Madrid, Torrelodones. Furthermore, when online poker returns to our catalogue of games, something we do not doubt will occur, our players will be the first to know.
Online poker companies who operate in Spain are required to pay as much as 25% in taxes and most gambling establishments have found it extremely hard to stay afloat due to the lack of online poker traffic, shortage of revenue and high taxes. PokerStars and 888 are two of the biggest online poker brands in the world and have a strong financial base to continue to operate in a stagnated Spanish market.
One of the main reasons for the decline in the online gambling market in Spain is due to the fact that most online gamblers prefer to play at illegal websites as there are less taxes, fewer regulations and better payouts. The CODERE Foundation and the Institute of Policy and Governance of the Charles III University in Madrid conducted an in-depth study in 2014 and reported that 43% of online gamblers in Spain prefer to go to illegal websites and play. This number could be a lot higher in 2015 and will most likely increase in 2016 making it extremely difficult for licensed poker websites to keep up with their underground competition.