The CasinoBeats Summit, which marked the return of the physical events for the gaming industry in Europe, featured the ‘What does it take to succeed in Spain?’ session, sponsored by FBM, where industry experts analysed the latest developments in the Spanish market.

Participants included moderator Jake Pollard, founder of Open Media Services, along with partner at Loyra, Patricia Lalanda Ordóñez, director general of Jdigital, Andrea Vota, and head of marketing at Party Casino, Laricea Roman.

To start the debate, Ordóñez explained that the past semester has been very intense and challenging in terms of adapting operations to the new technical and regulatory requirements, which also aim at limiting advertising. In this framework, legal organisations such as Loyra have been working hard with operators to ensure that they can keep their licenses without neglecting their business.

Vota, as director general of the Spanish trade association, reviewed what has happened in Spain since the Royal Decree was approved. The measure prohibits welcome bonuses, sponsorship agreements between clubs and bookmakers and highly restricts advertising on online channels, TV and radio.

He said: “Since the summer of 2020, there has been a conflictive environment from a regulatory point of view in Spain, ever since the Royal Decree was approved and started in November 2020. The last restrictions will come into force next month.”

“Actually, after the quarantine during the pandemic, there really has been no justification for applying the same advertising restrictions that are going to be enforced now. We consider that advertising is something needed in online gaming, not only because it helps promote, but also because it’s a way to distinguish licensed operators from the platforms that operate illegally,” he detailed.

Roman also provided a positive perspective by stating that for Party Casino, “despite the initial restrictions during the forced lockdown, the Spanish market has been exceptionally successful for us and it’s been growing steadily, not only from an engagement perspective with the brand, but also converting users who are showing very high quality compared to other countries.”

However, she also recognised that the company is not immune to regulatory changes and that they’ve had to adapt to the provisions, while some clauses have affected operations.

“Party Casino has always been about content and pushing content rather than welcome bonuses. From that perspective, I think we’re more affected by the first regulatory change,” she commented.

To echo this idea, Loyra’s legal expert pointed out that from the beginning, operators were open to collaborating on new regulations and tightening controls on problem gambling.

Adding: “There was a sort of agreement between all the stakeholders until suddenly the last version was approved and passed, which introduced major changes and no opportunities for stakeholders to actually submit their allegations. Now we’re in the interpretation stage. To appeal the Royal Decree, we need to know how to interpret each sentence so that a court, which will have no idea about gambling, will rule on this in the future.”

The moderator also asked for more details on the industry’s plans to stop these restrictions, to which Vota replied that “Jdigital has actually already appealed the Royal Decree along with other gaming organisations affected by it, like AMI, the media association in Spain, and La Liga.”

And he stated: “Court cases can be slow and we’ll see what the results are, as a lot of parties are involved, such as the government and other organizations. We’re really interested in the judicial debate on what’s right and what’s wrong on certain probations of the decree.

“I’m pretty sure that some of them can be justified but we consider the overall Royal Decree as one that is threatening for the whole industry.”