Spain has stood out as an international poker destination since the 2017 European poker liquidity deal. France, Italy, and Portugal also signed this deal.
The deal included an agreement by the three countries to open up their national markets and share their player pools.
Since then, iGaming, especially sports betting, continues to flourish in Spain. Being a soccer-loving country, Spain has a large soccer betting market, with the UK following closely.
However, sports betting is just one of the gaming sectors millions of citizens have made investments in.
Poker is also commonly played in brick-and-mortar casinos and online.
In Spain, betting is a culture. Some gamers use poker as a pastime while others play professionally e.g. Adrián Mateos, who has three gold bracelets from the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
There are 43 operating poker rooms in the country. These venues have licenses and approval from the appropriate authorities.
History of Poker in Spain
The Spanish nation declared gambling legal in 1977 with the end of the Franco regime. In 1981, the government lifted all bans on games of chance and skill.
The 17 sovereign states in Spain then had the freedom to set up their own licensing and regulatory structures. In 2011, standardized countrywide rules came into play with the Spanish Gaming Act.
This legislation meant that citizens of Spain could enjoy playing online poker legally without getting into trouble with the authorities.
The industry has continued to flourish, and regional gaming authorities control land-based gambling today. Casinos, especially Casino Barcelona in Spain’s capital, host some of the world’s most extensive poker tournaments series.
These events are the WSOP Circuit and Partypoker LIVE events.
Legislation of Online Poker in Spain
Like many other European countries, Spain has taken its time to make licensing an easy process. Although online gambling is legal, obtaining a license to run a gambling business is no walk in the park.
Moreover, online gambling platforms must pay up to 15% tax on gross income made from gaming. This tax rate is relatively high compared to countries such as the USA. Inarguably, online gaming tax should reduce with time as Spain embraces more online casinos.
External influence from other European countries will also push Spain into standardizing and reducing taxes for all online casino operators.
Better policies will push us more into iGaming and encourage tourists to invest in the sector.
Spain’s Online Poker Environment
Despite laborious licensing processes, all major poker rooms such as PokerStars and 888 are open to players from Spain and other nations like Italy and France.
Playing poker online in Spain is now easy and fun, with competition from other European players. Spain ranks as a country with the most diverse online poker industry worldwide.
In 2020, for example, the Spanish poker industry brought in €76.5 million. Tournaments and online poker competitions are to thank for this tremendous income in a single year. Besides, real money online poker also earned the industry €34 million.
The vast range of poker games available in Spain drives the industry forward. We can enjoy the best and most lucrative gaming options in the global market.
Renowned game developers have also found their way to Spain to provide popular titles to Spanish gamers.
We stand high chances of winning due to the fair and improved odds. The taxation on profits generated by casinos influences assured wins.
Although we can do more to improve gaming laws in Spain e.g. making licensing easier, the industry promises to grow significantly.
The Future of Poker in Spain
Spain’s government loses a huge chunk of revenue to illegal and unlicensed game providers. The presence of unlicensed providers is propelled by the strict laws on licensing and crude punishments on tax defaulters.
From statistics, 43% of Spain’s poker players enjoy the game illegally. There are plans to bring all illegal providers on board and find common ground to conduct gambling businesses in the open.
Undeniably, Spain’s online poker industry and the gambling industry, in general, have a golden future. All stakeholders, from gamers to licensing authorities, are about to witness a significant shift in revenue and foreign investment.
Poker tournaments such as the annual European Poker Tour are remarkable milestones and indicators of a better future for Spain’s poker industry.