In a formal statement, the General Directorate for Gambling Affairs (the "DGOJ") has announced that a proposal has been filed to the minister of taxes to reopen the window that will allows online gambling operators to apply for new licenses which will allow operators to offer online gambling activities in the Spanish market.
The tax minister now has a three-month term to decide on whether it considers that the corresponding call for tender should be launched. This call for tender will be articulated by the passing and publication in the Spanish Official Gazette of a Ministerial Order. This will officially launch the process, approving the terms and conditions under which all applications for new general licenses must be made during this window.
As established in the Spanish Gambling Act (Act 13/2011 dated May 27, approving the gambling provisions), two separate licenses are needed for an operator to offer online gambling activities in Spain:
- General licenses are needed for operators to enter the Spanish market.
- Specific licenses can be obtained once the operator has a general license, and would allow the operator to offer each game type.
Therefore, the general licenses are the first step for the offering of online gambling activities in Spain. However, these licenses can only be obtained if the DGOJ launches the corresponding call for tender. Until now, only two calls for tenders have been launched in Spain: One in 2011; the second in late 2014.
After a reasonable period has elapsed since the last call for tender held in 2014, the DGOJ now thinks it appropriate to launch a new call for tender. This will be the third call held in Spain, and it was officially launched through filing the proposal with the Minister of taxes. It will then be articulated and published in the Spanish Official Gazette of Ministerial Order, which will officially launch the process in a maximum time of three months.
The main change to the process is the window during which operators will be able to apply for licenses: the DGOJ will be opening the application window for general licenses for a one-year term from the date the call for tender is published. In the two previous calls for applications, the application window was only one month. Through doing this, the DGOJ is aiming to make the process easier, allowing new entrants (or existing operators seeking to apply for additional general licenses) to apply for licenses without the time constraints of the previous window. Also, once the application window has been formally opened, new games and amendments to the existing regulations are likely to be approved. Through extending the window to one year, the DGOJ is aiming to give operators enough time to consider these new games and regulations before submitting their applications.
This statement is accompanied with the terms and conditions under which applications for new general licenses must be made in this window, which includes several changes to the last call for tender.
This is a new opportunity for operators seeking to enter the Spanish market, and for existing operators wanting to apply for additional general licenses so they can offer more game variants which they are not allowed to offer in this moment.