Online betting increases day after day in Spain, because 130,000 Internet users have turned this illegal practice into a business that already moves 650 million euros, although experts assure that the real “boom” of the sector is to come. At an European level, the UK is the Mecca of online gaming, an area to which US has declared war.
According to data from Spanish Internet Betting Association (AEDAPI), Spain already has 130,000 users which bet on Internet and in 2007 they gambled a total of 650 million euros, a 57% more than in 2006.
The association, which every year registers a volume of bets managed by the main companies which receive orders from the Spanish territory, is convinced that the online gambling sector still has not reached its best moment. In fact, it expects 2008 to be a great year, and an 84% growth is estimated, compared to 2007, as well as more than 200,000 active players that bet around us$ 1,200 million euros.
Sacha Michaud, spokesman of AEDAPI and director of Betfair Iberia, assures that the growth of the sector in Spain has been “very strong in the last three or four years”, altough “it is easy to grow with little numbers”, he affirmed.
At a European level, UK can be considered the mecca of games of chance, because betting centres are legal in that country, which has 1.2 million active players on the Internet, which move more than 24 billion euros, calculates AEDAPI.
Many companies legally operate in the country; some of them even quote in the London Stock Market, such as William Hill, whose shares fell a 30% on the current year. It has more than 1,500 offices and collects US$ 2,500 million annually. Besides, the shares of Ladbrokes, the biggest UK company in the industry, lost almost 8%. It has more than 2,200 betting centres and several websites to play poker, casino or bingo. Other successful companies in the UK are Sporting bet, Partygaming and 888 Holdings.
In Malta and Finland the activity is also allowed. In Spain it must be made via Internet servers located in other countries, This way, Spanish customers are in a legal void.
However, last December 28th the Congress approved the promotion of a national law to regulate sportsbooks. “It would be an advantage for customers, who would have more information and transparency; for companies, who could establish in the country, and for the country itself, which would collect more taxes”, affirms Michaud.
Besides, US has imposed a ckackdown on this online practice. At the end of 2006, the Senate approved a law that forced many companies to suspend their services. The norm bans the use of credit cards, checks and electronic transactions to make Internet bets.