Online gambling is something enjoyed by so many that it seems to be causing a lot of stress politically in most countries across the globe. It seems that more and more countries are getting to a point where they are motioning to legalize or ban online gambling.
That’s no surprise, considering how quickly online gambling has become one of the most beloved pastimes for so many across the globe.
It’s fun, it’s instant and it can be done from the comfort of your couch. With the launch of mobile casinos, players can now even gamble from anywhere at any time as long as they have a solid internet connection.
The good news for Spanish players is that the government is completely pro-gambling. Let’s take a look at the history and laws on gambling in Spain, as well as the most recent changes in the laws and regulations regarding online gambling.
The Spanish are known for their love of gambling. In fact, most forms of gambling have been legal in Spain since 1977. In 1981 the Spanish national government widened their regulations to cover even more forms of gambling. From the start, gambling was considered legal activity in Spain. It was only in 2011 that the countries gambling landscape changed forever with the implementation of the Spanish Gambling Act.
Before the Act was put in place, the country’s 17 sovereign communities, Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, the Balearic Islands, the Basque Country, the Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castile, ÄìLa Mancha, Castile and Leon, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Murcia, Navarre and Valencia, were all in charge of their own betting laws. These independent communities had the power to legislate over any and all forms of gambling.
The Spanish Gambling Act was not brought in as a means to take away power from the independent parties, but rather as a way of creating harmony and implementing a communal law on gambling. According to the higher authorities, gambling was quickly becoming a matter that had to be dealt with on national rather than regional level.
The act regulates all forms of gambling taking place online and on land. It also serves as a regulator of all lottery operators such as the LAE and the ONCE. Basically, any forms of gambling advertisement are only legal and allowed if they have been processed and put through the authorization process. According to the Act all operators who wish to provide their services to Spanish citizens have to obtain a licence from the country’s National Gambling Commission. These licences come with tax added, and they are non-transferrable. Another important factor is that all online gambling operators are required to offer their services and run their sites through a .es domain (for Espana).
One thing the Spanish definitely seem to be getting right is regulating online gambling and curbing illegal sites. In fact, it seems that over 50 websites have chosen to voluntarily shut down and follow the legal proceedings to gain access to the Spanish online gambling market. Those who have chosen to ignore the laws and continue unlawfully providing their services to Spanish citizens are hunted down and are facing legal action. These sites have been provided with a cease and desist order, and only the ones which choose to continue and ignore the warning are facing legal charges.
The licensing process is quite rigorous as operators are required first to obtain a general licence from the Spanish authorities. This is followed up with another licensing process where the operator has to apply for a specific licence relating to the specific type of betting services it wants to offer.
The specific licences include mutual sports betting, fixed sports betting, fixed odds horse racing betting, contests Roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack, Slots and Poker licences to name a few. The interesting thing is that most specific licences are valid for 5 years. Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette and fixed-odds horse betting licences are valid for 3 only years.
Fun Fact: The most popular form of gambling is the National Lottery, Lotería Nacional, which runs as an effort to help charities and the Catholic Church.
One of the less fun things about gambling online is wondering about whether or not you have to declare your gambling winnings or even pay tax on them. Unfortunately for avid Spanish gamblers, the law states that all tax winnings have to be declared as income. Players who have lottery winnings exceeding €2,500 are required to pay 20% tax on those winnings. The upside is that the government has made allowance for players to deduct their losses from their winnings. Thus, if you are a Spanish citizen you are required by law to declare all gambling winnings as taxable income, but you will be allowed to deduct losses from those wins.
Operators, on the other hand, have been suffering from hefty tax payments of 25% per year on their gross gaming revenue. Luckily in more recent talks, the government has announced that they are considering cutting tax from 25% to 20% for operators. This move is purely business, as the online gambling market within the country is blossoming and rapidly growing. In an effort to attract more operators to offer their services within the country the government is willing to cut taxes.
Online gambling has been fully legal in Spain since 2011, but there are strict rules and regulations in place to ensure players are only offered services from licensed operators. If you are playing at a site that isn’t licensed in Spain itself, you don’t need to worry. The government does not punish individuals for this, but keep in mind that the site could shut down if it is caught, take your winnings and bankroll with it.
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