International edition
June 16, 2021

It aims to approve it before the conclusion of the legislative period

Spanish government prepares the arrival of Loterías del Estado to online betting

(Spain).- The Spanish government aims to approve a gaming law to regulate the legal void on Internet betting and that will allow Loterías y Apuestas del Estado (LAE) to compete with the rest of the operators in the sector, according to General Director of the public entity, Gonzalo Fernández Rodríguez.

F

ernández explained that the game overview in Spain has changed in recent years, from a situation in which the only operators that offered games were the public entity and ONCE, to the current context in which there are many companies from other European countries that operate in the country through webpages or betting houses authorized by autonomous communities.

These companies offer bets for "almost anything", from sportsbooks to the result of a political election or Formula 1 races. Unlike traditional lotteries, these bets offer "much more immediacy, much more speed and are much more attractive", because the player does not limit to purchase a ticket but also has to make a prediction, explains Fernández.

According to the latest report from the Commission of the Market of Telecommunications (CMT), Internet games of chance and betting were in the fifth place –behind air transport (9.9%), travel agencies and tourist operators (9.5%), direct marketing (8.5%) and artistic, sports and entertainment shows (7.2%)- in the ranking of economic activities with more importance in the volume of income generated by economic commerce in Spain during the first semester of 2009, with a 6.7 % of the 1.2 billion euros generated by this type of commerce.

Head of LAE thinks that this type of business cannot be “ignored”, with a long tradition in the aglo-saxon world, has changed the gaming prospect in Spain, and will “probably”gain a market share in the near future, so, in his opinion, it is “reasonable and responsible” that the public entity also competes in this sector. “I think LAE, as gaming operator, should be present in this market”, he underlined.

However, Fernández affirmed that "the first necessary step" for LAE to valorate to enter in the online betting business is that it exists a regulation that legalizes the Internet gaming, by mobile phone or interactive television. In 2007, a contract-program has been established between LAE and the Ministry of Economy with a two-year deadline to prepare a bill to regulate the sector.

Once the deadline concluded, the general director of LAE was hoping to see the gaming law approved before the current legislative period in 2012.

Since last year, LAE offers the possibility to bet through its web page in some of the games that were traditionally sold in paper, such as sportsbooks. This year, the sale through that distribution channel has increased almost a 100 %, pointed LAE General Director.

The Justice Court of the European Union (TUE) passed judgement last Tuesday on restrictions imposed by some member states to private Internet betting and games of chance firms, and even their prohibition, does not vulnerate the community norm, because they may be considered justified with the aim to fight against fraud and crime.

So, the judgement rejects the resources presented by the betting firm via Internet Bwin and by Professional Portuguese Football League. Both firms had been fined by Portuguese authorities with 74,500 and 75,000 euros, respectively, for having proposed and promotioned games of chance by Internet, despite the Portuguese legislation bans it.

The association that gathers all the national lotteries of the 27 (European Lotteries) celebrated TUE rule because, in his view, it confirms that the state may keep a gaming  monopoly in Internet, as well.  The association considered that the rule is a “great victory”for governments and national governments and will be useful to end with Internet betting centers such as Gibraltar, Malta or Channel Islands (UK).

Finally, the betting company by Internet Bwin claimed last week a market regulation of the Internet betting in the European Union in order to fill the current “legal void” and so private societies may act with “legal security” in this field.

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