Spain's Partido Popular Pushing for Promulgation of New I-Gaming Rules

13 January 2009
An amendment to a late 2007 Spanish law could mean countrywide regulation of online gambling as early as this spring.

In December 2007, the Spanish Congress passed Law 56/2007 on Measures to Promote the Information Society. A section in the law required the federal government to develop regulations for online gambling, Xavier Munoz of the Spanish law firm Legal Link told IGamingNews Tuesday.

However, no timeline was established by that law and, in the last year, the government has been lax in its obligation. Recently, Spain's Partido Popular -- the Parliament's second largest and most conservative party -- introduced a resolution putting pressure on the ruling Socialist Workers' Party to issue the regulations, giving them a deadline of three months.

"This resolution is saying 'Let's put some dates on this,' " Mr. Munoz said.

The 2007 law outlined several principles under which remote gambling would be regulated in Spain, he said.

First and foremost, the law establishes that the regulation of online gambling will be administered at the federal level, rather than having the 17 autonomous regions regulating the activity individually, Mr. Munoz said.

In late 2008, several regions were discussing their options for regulating online gambling, but as another Spanish gaming lawyer, Santiago Asensi of Asensi Abogados, told IGamingNews in November: "To regulate online gambling in the communities, in my opinion, does not make sense taking into account that Spain is going to pass legislation to regulate online gaming at the state level within the next (one to two) years."

Next, as outlined in Law 56/2007, the regulations must be promulgated in accordance with European Union law, according to a report provided by Mr. Munoz.

The Spanish Congress calls on the federal government to strictly adhere to European Community laws, like the free movement of services, for which a number of member states have been scrutinized or even brought to court for violating.

Furthermore, while following European Community principles, the Spanish government must establish a system of authorization, or licensure, Mr. Munoz said.

Once that system is in place, companies not bearing a Spanish license will not be able to operate in the country, regardless of whether they are licensed in their country of origin or not, Mr. Munoz's report stated.

In addition, advertising by unlicensed operators will be strictly forbidden, a tax distribution system among the state and the 17 autonomous regions must be established and the regulations must comply with data- and minor-protection requirements.

Mr. Munoz said it is unclear yet exactly which activities will be allowed under the new regulations. But that is because at a June 2008 meeting of gambling regulators from the 17 autonomous regions and the state government, Loterias y Apuestas del Estado -- Spain's state-owned lottery provider -- agreed to take charge of drafting the regulations and have them finished by October 2008. Loterias y Apuestas, however, has failed to produce anything so far.

"They are the ones in charge, but they in fact don't want it (state regulated gambling)," Mr. Munoz said. "They aren't drafting the law, and everyone else is complaining, saying maybe somebody else should do it because the monopoly is not really interested."

Emily Swoboda is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.