Spain: Authorities announce that they will be regulating online slots and exchange betting

The Spanish authorities have made a very important announcement that should have very significant consequences in the near future. Indeed, in a statement posted on its website, the regulator has announced that it is going to regulate online slots and exchange betting, so that these games can be operated by licenced operators in Spain.

This is a long awaited announcement has been preceded by two public consultations that have led to a very active debate on the necessity of having these games regulated in Spain.

In this respect, the authorities have concluded that: (i) after the new regulatory framework was established, Spanish players kept on accessing to these games through non-licensed operators; (ii) allowing the operation of these games in a regulated environment will ensure the implementation of adequate standards of consumer-protection, anti-money laundering principles and legal security; or (iii) the introduction of online modalities of slots should not be incompatible with traditional slots. Taking into account all these elements (and other ones), the authorities have concluded that both online slots and exchange betting should be regulated in Spain.

According to the announcement published today, the process will take some time in order to allow the operators to offer these games. Indeed, the Spanish regulator is expecting to regulate exchange betting first of all. Once this modality has been regulated, they will develop and approve the relevant regulations for the operation of online slots.

In both cases, the Spanish regulator is planning to firstly publish a draft version of the corresponding regulation. Said publication will open a public comments’ phase in order to receive the impressions and suggestions from the relevant interested parties. The authorities will afterwards amend the draft regulation, including the comments they deem relevant, and seek the approvals and agreements with the national and relevant regional authorities. The whole process should crystalize in the form of the publication of the regulations for each type of game, the so-called Ministerial Order (“Orden Ministerial”).

The timing of the whole process remains uncertain for the time being but appears to show that the operation of these games should be possible in Spain during the second half of this year.