Spain’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs has reported that fines totalling €71m have been imposed on online gambling businesses during the first half of 2023.
The Ministry, which oversees federal governance of Spanish gambling, stated that these penalties were imposed on 30 online gambling firms, in which the most ‘serious infractions’ of unlicensed gambling were fined ‘€5m each and suspended for two years’.
A full list of infringements was published on the website of the Directorate General of Spanish Gambling (DGOJ), which reported imposing the maximum fine of €5m each on 14 unlicensed operators (totaling €70m), primarily domiciled in Curaçao under NV and BV egaming licenses.
As disclosed by the DGOJ, operators fined €5m included – Smein Hosting, Blockdance BV, Fairgame GP NV, Bets Entertainments NV, Newera BV, Santeda International BV, XO Corporacion NV, Casbit Group NV, Altacore NV, Versus Odds BV, Favorit United NV, Ryker BV, Techoptions Group BV, and AK Global NV.
The remaining 16 fines were issued to Spanish-licensed operators, as the DGOJ imposed penalties ranging from €25,000 to €105,000 for various regulatory non-compliances.
Penalties were issued to Spanish-licensed operators including Beatya SA, Codere Online, Zebetting y Gaming España, Marathonbet, and Skill-on-Net – with fines issued primarily for non-compliance or failure to meet responsible gambling standards.
Sanctioned in 2021, amendments to Spain’s Gambling Law placed the DGOJ under the regulatory oversight of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, following the Spanish government’s restructuring of ministerial duties overseeing the governance of business sectors.
Since 2021, the DGOJ has reported gambling infringements directly to the Ministry on an interim basis. To date, the Ministry has published a total of 122 penalty sanctions, with the second half of 2021 seeing 19 sanctions, 73 in 2022, and 30 in the first half of 2023.
Last month, Jdigital – Spain’s online gambling trade body – issued a direct response to the gambling prevalence study published by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
The response highlighted concerns that Spain’s new gambling laws had “limited awareness regarding the differences between legal and illegal gambling, as highlighted in the Online Player in Spain report by Jdigital in 2022”.
Proceedings in 2023 saw the Spanish government approving the “Royal Decree on Responsible Gaming Environments”. This mandate will ensure that Spanish gambling adopts the strictest surveillance of gambling operators and market activities within Europe by 2024.
Critics have pointed out that the Ministry’s measures to protect against the black market are limited. This observation comes as the DGOJ continues its stakeholder consultations, focusing on applying technical constraints to licensed operators, which include setting limits on deposits, maintaining records, registering players, and enforcing in-play restrictions on high-risk games.