A new report suggests that the Spanish enclave of Ceuta’s tireless campaign to become a new hot spot for online gambling operators is working, with 68 percent of the country's business revenue coming from just 3 percent of businesses, all of which are directly involved in the gambling industry.
Ceuta, which was a part of Spain and the municipality of Cadiz, became its own autonomous city in 1995. It sits at the tip of north Africa, where a large armoured wall separates it from Morocco. The past few years, Ceuta has been striving to use its tax haven status within the European Union to economically elevate itself.
That includes marketing itself as an alternative to regions such as Malta and Gibraltar as a base for European online gambling operations.
According to the report by Insight View, “large online gaming companies are moving to the autonomous city due to the differential tax treatment compared to other autonomous communities” in Europe.
In recent years, online gaming operators have flocked to Ceuta, with more than 20 companies opening offices there, including 888 Holdings, Betway, MondoBets, Gamesys Group, Playtech and Flutter Entertainment.
When Flutter announced in January that it would be opening in Ceuta, it commented that, “from here, we also have access to the great local talent that exists in the city and the Spanish market, in which we have licences”.
It is noteworthy that in Spain gaming operators must pay 20 percent tax on gross gaming revenue, whereas in Ceuta, it is 10 percent, in addition to other incentives in place to attract business to the African region.
According to Santiago Asensi, gaming lawyer and founding partner at Asensi Abogados, Brexit has also helped Ceuta become an attractive option, driving companies that used to rely on Gibraltar to search for a new location. Similarly, when Malta was greylisted by money laundering watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Ceuta became a more appealing alternative.
Gibraltar was itself added to the FATF greylist, just as Malta was removed, in July of this year.
According to Asensi: “Suddenly Malta was greylisted, and Ceuta has a huge benefit for operators in Spain. Fifty percent [discount on] the gaming tax is a lot of money.”
Mainland Spain also has much stricter regulations, with continuous proposals to make them even stricter to protect gambling addicts and minors.
Meanwhile, Ceuta is bending over backwards to make it an easy process for companies looking to relocate, says Asensi, and for this reason it is only the start of its success as a gambling hub. “They're going to be bigger. They're going to do better. They're going to grow. This is just the start,” Asensi said.