For a long time, all gaming activities were unregulated. Before 1977, only lotteries, including the National ones, were allowed and regulated. The things start to change in 1977 when the first Spanish land-based casinos became legal. This year was marked by one more event - the legalization of the games of skill. In 4 years, in 1981, the games of chance (slots) were also legalized.
It took 20 years for the government of Spain to understand that they can take advantage of this sphere if they make some steps on the way to the regulation of gambling. In 2002, online gambling began to be regulated. This year was actually the year of the first online casinos in Spain. In no time, in 2004, sports betting activity was also taken under control and regulation.
The changes don’t end up here, and in 2008, there was a decision to divide the country into 17 separate regions, with their own authorities being in charge of the gambling activities on their territories. Some land-based and online casinos were available only for one region, and they were regulated by the authorized bodies of these regions. If the casino is available for two or more regions, it is regulated by the State. To tell you the truth, we don’t know why they decided to separate the casinos, probably that was just for the convenience of controlling the sphere.
You can think that at those times gambling was already well-regulated, but it wasn’t until the 26th of May 2011 when the first Gambling Act No. 13/2011 was approved. It includes all the key rules, duties and taxes related to both land-based and online casinos. In May 2011, the development of online gambling was finally allowed, but the lotteries, bingo, and slots were forbidden. However, god knows why, the actual regulation started only a year after, in 2012. These Spanish guys are so complex.
And only in 2 years, in 2014, slots were legalized with the appearance of new legislation. It was a complicated path, but it’s worth it for sure. On 2nd June 2015, the law came into effect and immediately appeared ten more licensed operators. Now, let’s talk about the modern gambling in Spain, and how it can be characterized.
Firstly, we dare to say that the gambling laws in Spain are quite loyal. Gambling is entirely legal, and all kinds of gambling are allowed here. It’s one of few countries where you can try nearly all gambling activities legally. We put “nearly” for a good reason there, as there are some restrictions on online poker.
In general, we can say that gambling is regulated by the Spanish government with the main body, such as General Directorate for Gambling Regulation, and the main law being the Spanish Gambling Act of 2011. It would have been too simple if the things had been organized this way here. There are also many additional bodies and acts helping to keep the control of the sphere. For instance, there are LAE and ONCE controlling the lotteries exclusively. The Spanish Gambling Commission is issuing the licenses to the land-based and Spanish online casino sites. There are also some additional laws called Royal Decrees, including some changes to the main Act.
If a Spanish online casino wants to obtain a license, it can choose from the three types they offer:
- General license (for 10 years);
- Single license (for up to 5 years);
- Permits (occasional, don’t have strict timeframes).
Online gambling license in Spain is obligatory for the casinos operating on the territory of Spain. There is a huge fine for the illegal operation of a casino in Spain. It totals €50 million. We think it’s a high enough fine to prevent the appearance of any unfair gambling websites in this country. One more tricky thing, is that the casinos licensed by the Spanish Gambling Commission should have a .es domain. Moreover, they should be physically present in Spain. That’s why many Spaniards prefer playing at foreign online casinos, even despite the fact they are illegal. Some casinos are even blocked by the Spanish regulator or they ask a casino to block the access to the Spanish.
One more thing preventing the gambling websites from getting the Spanish license is their high taxes. These taxes range between 20% and 30% with an additional gross profit tax of 25%. All money goes to the state treasury, making a great contribution to the Spanish economy.
All in all, the gambling in Spain used to be in the grey zone, but now it is legal and well-regulated. You can play at more than 60 casinos across the country and visit 7 race tracks. There are found more than 250,000 slot machines in all the regions of Spain. The popular gambling activities include sports betting, poker, lotteries, bingo, bullfighting (obviously!), horse racing, and dog racing. One more popular and uncommon activity are cockfighting games (not those you’ve thought about, you shameless bustards). You can play all of those only if you are over 18. They are so strict about the age limit that you can’t even visit a brick and mortar casino accompanied by an adult if you are under 18.
The poker situation is similar to France, so here you can play poker and take part in various tournaments, only with the Spanish. Well, in 2018 you’ll also get a chance to play legally with the French.