In Spain Online Gambling Firms Reached an Agreement with the Government

1 June 2012 – By Cristian Dragomir

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The Spanish online gambling market will be opened for internet gambling operators starting with June 2012. Before that date, several leading European online casino operators have reached agreements with the Spanish government to pay millions in back taxes. The three large operators in the gambling world that signed deals with the government are Gibraltar-based 888 Holdings and bwin.party Digital Entertainment and London-headquartered Sportingbet. The online gambling firms took the decision and hope that it would help them obtain a license to offer their services to Spanish online gamblers.

Based on the company’s own tax self-assessment, 888 paid 7.4 million euros after the discussions with Spanish authorities regarding gaming duty for the period of January 2009 to May of last year. 888 said in a statement that this payment paved the way for them to receive a Spanish iGaming license from the beginning of June. The other two major companies also paid staggering amounts of money. Bwin.party digital paid almost 33 million euros and Sportingbet Plc paid a tax bill of somewhere around the 20 million euro mark as well.

Before paying those taxes, the operators were contacted by the Spanish government that told them they will apply two existing laws which previously were considered irrelevant. These laws required foreign operators that for the period of January 2009 to May 2011, when the Spanish market was not a clearly regulated legal framework, they would pay retrospective taxes. The Spanish government is carrying out large spending cuts in order to deal with a stagnating economy.

But not all foreign operators agreed to pay these back taxes. Important online casino operators have been able to deal with this requirement, but many of the smaller companies are leaving the country out of fear that they too will be forced to pay millions of euros in back payments. For example, Omni Casino is no longer accepting accounts from Spain once May ends and all Spanish online casino players will be cashed out upon request. There are other small companies that operated in the not-so-regulated environment and that will take similar moves in the next period.

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