Spanish Online Poker Industry Continues to Decline
The online gambling industry in Spain is not exactly booming, a fact that has been made clear by several poker media reports. Last month, it came to light that gross gambling revenues generated by licensed online gambling sites in Spain fell by 10 percent during the second quarter of this fiscal year. The total gambling revenue generated was $73.6 million.
Deloitte, a professional services company, conducted an investigation into the matter and later submitted a report on its findings. According to the company, Spain’s 25 percent gross gambling revenue has led to $99 million in annual losses for its online gambling industry. In other words, Spain charges the highest tax rate in Europe, and this in turn has led to an uncompetitive online poker market in the country. Although the big online poker and online gambling companies can afford to pay 25 percent of their gross gambling revenues to the Spanish government, several smaller companies have withdrawn from the country because they have not been able to make any profits out of online poker.
It may be recalled that the Ongame Poker Network withdraw from the Spanish online poker market last June. Amaya, the owner of Ongame Poker Network, is a big company, which can afford to pay the high taxes to the Spanish government. However, Ongame could not attract the required traffic in Spain, owing to which it decided to leave the Spanish market.
Paf, another online poker company, also announced its decision to temporarily shut down its Spain facing online poker room in February. Paf still does not operate in Spain.
Another reason for the downfall of the Spanish online gambling industry is economic recession. The country is currently facing a number of economic problems and a high rate of unemployment. As many as 26 percent of Spaniards are unemployed, held to be the highest unemployment rate in Europe.
Spain’s online poker market has suffered the most because of its 25 percent tax rate. Currently, the leading online poker room in Spain is PokerStars. According to PokerScout.com, PokerStars in Spain gets a weekly average of 1480 players to its cash games. The next biggest Spanish online poker room appears to be 888 Poker, which gets a weekly average of 375 players to its cash games. This indicates that 888 Poker, in spite of being a popular online poker brand in the international market, lags far behind PokerStars in Spain. Surprisingly, in spite of lagging behind PokerStars, 888 Poker is still one of the biggest online poker rooms in Spain.
The third biggest online poker room in Spain is Party Poker, which gets a weekly average of 101 players to its cash games. There are a number of other online poker rooms lagging behind Party Poker in terms of cash game traffic. Spanish online poker services such as Microgaming.es, International.es, and iPoker.es all have a weekly average of 100 players.
If Spain lowers its levy, the market might improve. On the other hand, if the country’s economic problems continue, the online gaming industry might continue to decline.