Operators were Uncertain Over the Online Gambling Schedule

5 May 2012 – By Cristian Dragomir

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In the past few months many speculations were going around in the industry about Spain’s capability of meeting the deadline for the online gambling schedule. Recently the Spanish home affairs and administration ministry reconfirmed that the national online gambling regulator Enrique Alejo would start issuing licenses to suitable applicants at the scheduled date of June 1 2012. Online casino operators were in doubt because of the many staff changes, extension of earlier deadline of April 2012, the large number of applications that are under process and the litigation from online gambling operators like Codere. As stated in the announcement, once the licenses are issued the online gambling services can start immediately.

Other element that fueled the online operators’ uncertainty over the Spanish online gambling regulator being able to meet the deadline was a statement from 888 Holdings CEO. At a conference he stated that after assessing the situation in Madrid, his opinion was that the Spanish regulator would need more time than the new deadline of June 1 allows. Many online gambling operators have applied for licenses and are hopeful of getting them. It has been reported that the regulator has received more than 59 applications. The problem is that online gambling companies are frustrated about this delays and do not know how much credibility to attach to the assurance given by the Spanish government.

Applicants are also worried about the number of court cases in progress where online gambling operators are involved. For example, the Spanish operator Codere has sought injunctions against foreign companies being issued licenses. Until now, Codere’s actions were unsuccessful except in the matter against gambling operator Sportingbet. Despite this action, Sportingbet has applied for a license and based on regular meetings with the regulator, they expect to receive a license along with other applicants. This action taken by local operators could put the whole regulating process on hold. Every extension of deadline means extra losses for operators that applied for a license. Online operators are also incurring substantial costs to keep their operations in readiness so that they are able to go online as soon as they are given the license.

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