Gambling in Spain
Spanish Gamblers Love to Gamble
By Reno Rollins
Citizens of Spain love to gamble, and it is estimated that only Americans and Filipinos spend more on the pastime. Estimates place the total amount spent at around 22.68 billion Euros, but the amount may be double that when illegal gambling is factored in.
In 1991, Spaniards were estimated to have each spent 435 Euros on gambling, compared to 288 Euros for citizens of the United Kingdom. It is also believed that Spaniards have spent 10 times as much on gambling as they have on insurance. No doubt, these numbers have only grown over the years.
Geography of Spain
The country of Spain is divided into 17 communities and 2 autonomous cities (Ceuta and Melilla). The autonomous communities are further divided into 50 provinces. Besides the mainland, Spain also includes the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea and smaller islands near the strait of Gibraltar.
Gambling Law in Spain
All forms of gambling are now legal in Spain. Gambling was legalized in 1977, and games of pure chance (such as slot machines) were made legal in 1981. The legal age to gamble is 18, and minors under this age are not allowed to enter casinos, slot machines parlors or bingo halls.
Cards and dominoes are popular throughout the country, and citizens of the Basque region have even been known to wager on poetry contests. In the Canary Islands, cockfighting draws significant action.
After the gambling laws were relaxed, Bingo become very popular with the locals, and hundreds of halls opened throughout the country. Slot machines are also popular, and they are often known as “peseta swallowers” by the locals.
Growth of the Spanish Gaming Industry
The gambling market in Spain is expected to increase to 39 billion Euros by 2010 and experience an increase of over 750%. Online gambling within the country is expected to reach 4.2 billion Euros by 2010, which is a growth of 240% over the current numbers.
It was also recently announced that a desert region in Eastern Spain (half-way between Madrid and Barcelona) would be the location for a new version of Las Vegas. 32 hotel-casinos are planned, as well as two theme parks, a racecourse, golf course and a stadium. This project is expected to be completed before 2020. The project is being called “Gran Escala” (meaning “large scale”) and is expected to carry a price tag of 17 billion Euros.
With increased liberalization of the market and the appearance of such international firms as Bwin and William Hill, Spain’s gambling market seems poised to experience massive growth over the next decade.
Casino List in Spain
There are just under 40 casinos in Spain. The largest is Casino de Barcelona. Located in the city of Barcelona, it has 53 table games and 219 casino slot machines.
Casinos in Spain include:
- Casino Bahia de Cadiz
In addition to casinos, there are also a couple of cruise ships which offer casino-style gambling. The New Flamenco sails out of Barcelona and Grand Mistral sails out of Palma de Mallorca.
Horse and Dog Racing in Spain
There are seven horse tracks and one dog racing track in Spain. They are:
- Dos Hermanas Andalucía (Dos Hermanas)
Lottery in Spain
In Spain, the lottery is a huge phenomenon. They offer one of the biggest lotteries in the world, and it’s known by citizens as “El Gordo” (“The Fat One”). Prizes, although split up among multiple winners, have reached in excess of two-billion Euros. Proceeds from the lottery go to helping everything from local sports teams to hospitals. In 2004 alone, it was estimated that the Spanish Finance Ministry would make 750 million Euros from the national lottery.
Lottery kiosks are located all across the country, and these blue constructs are a well-known site. Many of the attendants are blind or otherwise disabled, and this serves as a way to provide them with meaningful employment. At one point, ticket sellers were earning double the average wage and lottery executives were driven around in bulletproof limousines.
It was estimated that the lottery made enough money in 1991 to pay for the country’s entire legal system.
Online Gambling in Spain
Online gambling is legal in Spain. A private investment firm has reported that Spain is potentially the fastest growing market for the online gambling industry. Many of Spain’s football (soccer) teams are also sponsored by online gambling companies.
38% of Spain’s 44 million citizens have access to the Internet via a fixed line connection, but they also have one of the largest mobile communication markets in Europe. It is estimated that 64% of mobile customers play games, versus 50% of residents with a home connection.
Poker in Spain
Spain has played host to the World Heads-Up Championship, The European Poker Tour and the finals of the 2007 World Cup of Poker. Madrid is also the home city of one of the greatest living poker players - Carlos “El Matador” Mortensen (the only man to win the World Championship event at both the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour).
Besides the standard versions of poker, the Spanish also have their own unique game. It is played much like Texas Holdem, except it only uses the 8 through Ace, one card is dealt at a time and a player must use both of his hole cards.
Bullfighting in Spain
Considered an important cultural part of Spain, bullfighting is still going strong. Madrid has the largest bullfighting ring in the world, and thousands of citizens and tourists flock to the events each year. While bets are not offered through sports betting services, there is plenty of action to be had at the arena.
Jai Alai in Spain
This game (popular in Florida) was invented in the Basque region of Spain and can still be found there. The Basque government bills it as “the fastest game on Earth,” due to the fact that the ball can travel at speeds up to 188 mph.
Bingo in Spain
Bingo has suffered a recent drop in attendance due to a new country-wide smoking policy which requires smoking areas to be partitioned from the non-smoking ones. Since this new law was introduced, bingo halls have experienced a 4.6% drop in business. On the other hand, online bingo services for Spain have reported a 24% percent growth in 2007.
United Kingdom Gambling
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