The Spanish Official Gazette has published today a Decision from the Spanish Gambling Authority (namely Decision no. HAP/1998/2013, available in Spanish here) amending the regulations that apply to betting and bingo.
These amendments are aimed at allowing operators offering their bingo and betting products in a more flexible (but still strict) regulatory environment. As a matter of fact, this is the first set of amendments and new regulations that we should be expecting from the Spanish authorities in the next future (and should imply, among other issues, the long-time expected approval of online slots and exchange betting).
The amendments introduced through this Decision could be summarized as follows:
1. AMENDMENTS TO BETTING REGULATIONS
These amendments apply to the following types of betting products: fixed-odds sport betting; pari-mutuel sport betting; fixed-odds horse-racing betting; pari-mutuel horse-racing betting; and other fixed-odds betting (social betting).
The amendments could be summarized as follows:
In regards of all types of betting, the pre-existing Catalogue of Events (unilaterally defined by the authorities) disappears. On the contrary, each operator is going to be free to offer its own catalogue of events and markets. At this respect, the operators will be required to keep a copy of the actual catalogue they are offering at each moment for a term of at least six years. This means that in case the Spanish authorities require the operator to deliver the catalogue referred to a given date, such a catalogue must be provided.
As a general principle, the catalogue offered by each operator shall comply with the applicable regulations and the general provisions of the Spanish legislation (e.g. excluding illegal events or bets that can be deemed as contrary to the dignity of individuals or infringing the rights of minors).
Under this new system, not only the restrictions set forth by the events and markets catalogue defined by the authorities disappear, but also the duty to notify any amendment to the catalogues that the operators offer in the Spanish market (unless being expressly required by the regulator to deliver it). This is good news, as the authorities were originally considering establishing a duty of previous notification of any amendment before being offered in the market.
As a final remark, the new regulation sets forth that in case the regulator becomes aware (by itself or through a complaint filed by any third party) of a given bet being offered in infringement of the applicable regulations (e.g. bets on illegal competitions or affecting the dignity of individuals), the regulator is going to be entitled to suspend and force the withdrawal of that bet and, should it be the case, launch the corresponding sanctioning procedure.
An amendment to the regulations applying to social betting has also been introduced. Indeed, the new version of the regulation introduces the possibility of offering bets on speed-races of animals (other than horses) as long as the rights of such animals are guaranteed by the organizers of those races.
2. AMENDMENTS TO BINGO REGULATIONS
Under the new regulation, the catalogue of online bingo games disappears. Hence, the offering of this type of games is liberalized in the following terms:
Any variety of bingo may be offered as long as any such variety fulfills the general provisions of Spanish regulations (and particularly remains as a “bingo” game, as defined in the applicable regulation).
Operators are entitled to offer bingo games based not just in combinations of numbers but also of symbols. In connection with this, the symbols being offered under this new liberalized environment cannot be contrary to the general principles of the law (and, namely, cannot be a breach of individuals’ dignity, are based on criminal breaches, or relate to events that are forbidden by the applicable regulations).
These amendments entered into force yesterday.