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Spain Bets on Internet Gambling

Spain is hoping to cash in on internet gambling

In the US, many cash-strapped states turned to gambling as a way to generate revenues without increasing taxes. Pennsylvania has built several casinos, and Ohio is in the process of constructing a new casino in Toledo. In addition to casino gambling, many states are making plans to offer online gambling to residents. In the UK and some parts of Europe, internet gambling has been around for years. The United Kingdom was the first country to establish a regulated internet gambling market. The two most popular gambling activities in the UK are online bingo at sites like and sports betting.

Spain is hoping to cash in on internet gambling. The government hopes to capture desperately needed tax income. Spain has suffered from high unemployment and massive budget deficits throughout the global recession. Currently the unemployment rate in Spain is about 20%. The indebted government will be awarding licenses to online gambling operators on June 1st 2012. According to the gaming association Jdigital revenues in the internet gaming sector will be about $1 billion by 2014.  In Spain internet gaming has been dominated by foreign firms. Unlike other countries Spain has not set a limit on the number of online gaming licenses it will award to gaming companies.

According to unnamed sources, 59 gaming companies have applied for gaming licenses, and only a few that have not met the requirements will be turned down. UK based gaming firms like Sportingbet and digital have been active in Spain’s unregulated market and are expected to be among the most prominent contenders for Spanish internet gaming licenses. Reports say that Ladbrokes, 888 Holdings and Betfair have also applied for gaming licenses in Spain. Fernando Henar, president of CEJ, a Spanish organization for bingo operators told reporters "The sector is on fire, and it looks like if you are not online, there is no future. But we will have to see who makes it through, because online businesses can be expensive to get off the ground. The business is based on marketing.”

Individual bets will not be taxed but online gaming firms will face gross profit taxes of between 10% and 25%. Spain’s outgoing central bank chief executive warned that Spain’s tax income may not be enough to refinance 98 billion euros of debt and fund a deficit of 52 billion euros. Even though the amount of taxes the government will receive will be relatively small every Euro will count. Spain has a lively gambling sector and between 2008 to 2010 the amount of money wagered in Spain increased by 7 billion Euros. In addition to online gambling Spain is considering revising tax laws to encourage US based Las Vegas Sands to build a $35 billion casino complex in the country.
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