Spanish Poker Licenses
Spain is looking to begin issuing online poker licenses as early as June 2012 to prospective operators who are willing to pay back taxes for the period of January 2009 thru May 2011.
The Spanish economy is in dire straits and taxing online gaming will help the government acquire some much needed additional revenue.
Internet gaming operators have been in talks with the Spanish tax authorities over the last few weeks and all eager to establish themselves legally within the European region to gain a valuable share of the EU online gaming market.
A total of 60 poker rooms have applied for licenses in Spain with a list that includes PokerStars, PartyPoker, 888 Poker, Bwin, Betfair and Sporting Bet Plc.
The amount prospective Spanish license holders will need to pay in order to attain a license will amount to a fortune in back taxes.
Spain Poker Licenses
Bwin.Party is expected to fork out a whopping $42 million ($33 Million Euros) to settle their license tax and be allowed to operate legally in Spain after being awarded a license. PartyPoker/Bwin seem quite pleased to hand over the money and are set to be among the first licenses awarded in the region. Bwin has already invested considerably in Spain with it's sponsorship of Real Madrid, the football team.
One could only imagine PokerStars will want a piece of the pie and could owe substantially more to be permitted to operate legally in Spain.
Estimates for smaller gaming operations still pack a heavy punch with 888 Poker estimating they would be required to pay $20 million dollars and Sportingbet Plc weighing in at $32 million.
Spain certainly have taken a step in the right direction by awarding licenses and managing to generate heaps of back taxes in the process with a regulated online poker market for the region in clear sight.
We can only hope that the US Government will follow the example Spain has set in legalizing online poker, but my guess is that the USA Government is protecting the big land based casino operators who have seen the potential profits that online gaming has to offer and these big groups want that revenue for themselves.
My point of view is that land based casino groups in the USA wanted online poker and online casinos shut down in America for a few years to remove the lead that established operators and brands had on the market while they could develop their own software to compete on a level playing field. That’s what I see as being the big hold up in the US and why licenses haven’t already been granted or legislation put in place to allow for licensing.
This has been proven recently with several big land based casino groups being in talks with online operators including the likes of Wynn with Zynga poker and PokerStars/Full Tilt (rumored), BWin Party with MGM Resorts / Boyd Gaming and Trump with 888.
Let’s all hope that Spain sets a good example of how licensing the online gaming industry can be profitable for governments while at the same time protecting players.