Based on the recently released second quarterly report from DGOJ, Spain has experienced high growth in poker cash games and poker tournaments. DGOJ is the Spanish regulator and its report further reveals that while the numbers are strong with regards to growth, player participation has not improved, which means that the overall growth could be a little sluggish during 2013.
Based on numbers from 2012, the stats from June show that over €87m euros was wagered in poker and further went up in July to €114m, and €119m in August. The overall number of Poker players in September in Spain was estimated to be around 700,000, which an approximate growth rate of about 100,000 a month.
These numbers from 2012 show that 36% of these numbers represented the Poker market, which was only outdone by sports betting. However, based on recent reports in 2013, Poker in Spain has been responsible for bringing in a third of the Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) in the market. It is estimated that the GGR from tournaments grew at 21% when compared with the previous quarter, while the cash game GGR grew 16%.
Yet the concern overall, is that there has been a slump when it comes to player participation. The last 3 months of 2012 saw a decline in the number of poker player registrations, which resulted in an actual decline in GGR in December.
One of the main reasons for this slump could be due to the financial crisis throughout Spain, where unemployment is at an all time high of around 30%, thereby affecting the entire economy. This is one of the reasons why the gaming sector has also suffered as there are few players who are willing to sign up and spend their money online.
Based on the information provided by the report, the market does not look likely to change in the immediate future. Unless, the government does something to address the issues of unemployment and look at the different tax laws, the online poker industry will continue to experience sluggish player participation.
A number of Spanish gaming operators are campaigning to bring down the GGR taxes which stand at 25% and is considered to be extremely high. Enrique Alejo, who is the DGOJ Director has stated on more than one occasion that he would like to see shared liquidity pools spread across other regulated European nations. Alejo said that he was confident that in the near future both Spain and Italy would be able to bring together its online poker pools and thereby cause each country to benefit from this collaboration.