Draft Gambling Bill Approved by Spanish Cabinet

Spanish Government okays internet gambling

All formats of online gambling have been given the green light by the Spanish government today.

This coming Tuesday the bill will appear before the country’s Congress, before it moves on to the Senate and in turn to the European Commission. Potentially this lays the foundation for a legislative structure to be implemented before 2011 ends.

It’s still not known which tax model has been selected by the Spanish Council of Ministers. Casino industry body such as the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) have been lobbying against a turnover tax for sports betting, they feel it might lead to the potential exploitation of Spanish players. The ruling Socialist Workers Party is in favour of a tax where gambling gross revenues are taxed.

Santiago Asensi, a gaming lawyer with Asensi Abogados in Madrid, said that lawmakers might impact negatively on the bill’s progress set forth by casino operators. “The gaming industry and the opposition People’s Party are fighting against possible turnover tax and gaming groups from all over Spain are campaigning for gross profits tax to be imposed.

“So far the socialists are in favour of a turnover tax, although there might be a distinct possibility they will succumb to pressure. We will only know how matters really stand once we’ve heard the government’s official confirmation.” The European Commission’s upcoming pronouncement on Danish proposals to tax internet casinos at a different rate than land-based casinos might slow the passage of legislation in Spain, according to Asensi.

“The European Commission’s outcome pertaining to the Danish gambling tax issue would set the standard for internet casino taxation in Europe, not just Spain. It would also impact on countries within the EU that have already been regulated.

The European Commission will not receive the draft bill until June or July, at which point the legislative standstill stage for the perusal of the planned legislation will begin. The customary three months to apply as in the Spanish case.

It is unclear whether the system utilised in the independent region of Madrid – where licenses would be issued once internet casinos meet a prearranged set of needs – will be enforced nationally. Madrid issued authorisations to current brick-and-mortar casino and bingo halls in 2007 for offering online gambling, sports betting and bingo.



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