The latest Taxing Measures Regulations (7/2005 Act of Dec.23, 2005) for the Community of Madrid that approved legal guidelines to install betting machines in bars, has provoked great unrest in business and machine operator circles; upto now, the B-type gaming machines had the sole right of installation and exploitation of these appliances. The Administration, however, – specifically the Treasury Regional Director – has had to speak out in order to calm down the sector – meaning the most important operators: Cirsa, R.Franco and Codere-; she stated that the regional government has no intention of allowing the installation of betting machines in bars, restaurants and cafeterias, or, if that’s the case, permitting the exploitation of these machines in special premises used for placing stakes, i.e. betting offices. At present, the Madrid government is studying the terms of the regulations governing betting activity at street level, as a way, too, of competing with online bet operators and aiming as well at becoming the first Autonomous Community to develop the betting activity. It should be remembered that although it is true that the Basque Country approved regulations to govern the exploitation of online betting, to date they have not made public any decision regarding the 3 operating licenses contemplated in the mentioned regional regulations.
The British online operator Betfair has entered the Spanish market with huge success. This is a new betting concept in Spain, in which participants bet among themselves on a sport event and the operator Betfair only charges a percentage on winning bets. The success of this activity is a serious menace for the state body LAE, manager of sport bets in Spain. Complaints, however, were not slow to appear, coming naturally from the private sector, that is annoyed with the entry of foreign operators in a market from which Spanish businessmen are banned.
The rights of betting users over the Internet must be guaranteed; to this end, a new association has just been created in Spain: Aedapi that represents the main operators .There are currently 15 online betting corporations in Spain, such as Betfair, Unibet, Globet, Interapuestas, etc., all of them and many others develop online gaming for Spanish users. According to Aedapi, 88,000 Spaniards bet regularly through these sites in the year 2005. The main objectives set by Aedapi are: to cooperate with the Spanish Administration in order to regulate online bets from the private industry, to strengthen the operators’ position and naturally to defend users’ rights and promote absolute transparency throughout the process.
The Spanish Association of Internet Betting Users-Aedapi estimates that in Spain there are over 550,000 users registered in companies operating online gaming in the country; of these more than half a million people, 220,000 played in the year 2005 and 88,000 are regular punters. Business volume of Internet stakes amounted to 255 mill. EUR, equivalent to an increase of 150% regarding the previous year. Promotion, advertising and sponsoring expenses added up to 32.6 mill. EUR.
Several sports betting operators through the Internet have found the way to attract users who are reluctant to register. It is the so called „Ukash“ payment mode, which means buying a material voucher (with a number code) in one of the 20,000 shops and bookshops spread all over Spain; the price of these vouchers goes from EUR 50.- to EUR 150.-. Once in possession of the voucher, the user enters the site and types in the voucher number code and he’s ready to place his stake online. This payment mode is a widely used procedure in Spain and obviously it escapes government control.
The Zarzuela Racetrack in Madrid reopens for the spring season subsequent to its three-month activity last autumn, all this after having been closed down for nine years. Races are held on Sunday mornings and are broadcast by a national TV channel, which permits obtaining a higher market share of potential users than any other private gaming mode. This quarter, handout prizes could climb up to 933,450 EUR and that represents an increase of 10% regarding the previous period. Likewise, the Lototurf and Quíntuple Plus horse bets
managed as well by the state LAE-Loterías y Apuestas del Estado will be developed this quarter too.
The Vicepresident of the Aragón government was forced to personally make a public statement with regards to the possibility of launching the sports bets activity. Although it is true that two years ago legal measures had been approved in order to regulate the betting activity and that the relevant public tender had been declared null (no official explanations given), rumours had been increasing since then. Now the regional government has clearly declared that there will be no sport bets in the very next future, at least not before the year 2007.