ast month, developers received final approval to break ground on Gran Scala, a Las Vegas-style mega-resort in Spain that is likely to herald a casino renaissance in the European country.
However, as the world's media remains firmly focused on the ambitious project, it seems that casino gaming is not the only avenue opening up for international operators.
In 2008, two provinces of Spain - the Autonomous Community of Madrid and the Basque Country - will bear witness to the first licensed betting offices in the country.
And although these two regions make up a relatively small percentage of Spain's 17 autonomous areas, one of the country's leading industry figures in the gaming field has said they represent just the tip of the iceberg in potential operator revenues.
Speaking at BetMarkets 2008, which opened its doors last Monday at the Vienna Marriott, Austria, Alberto Eljarrat, CEO of Cirsa-Ladbrokes Betting Company, drew attention to the fact that although the overall gambling market in Spain totaled 28.9 million euros in 2006, this was due primarily to revenues drawn from slot machines, Quiniela, a traditional game of chance, and the state-run ONLAE lottery, which was recently bolstered by the EuroMillions franchise.
Up until now, however, no revenue has been drawn from retail, land-based sports betting, which has always been illegal. “The betting industry in Spain is still not developed,” said Eljarrat. “But sports betting will soon be evolving in the country.”
The imminent change in Spanish law has led to the formation of numerous partnerships between local operators and global gambling groups. Cirsa-Ladbrokes is one such venture, representing an agreement between UK-based gaming giant Ladbrokes and Spanish entertainment and leisure group, Cirsa. The two companies have created Sportium, a newborn brand designed specifically for the soon-to-be-open LBO regions.