The Spanish gambling regulator has published its financial report for Q3 2022, suggesting that the country’s industry has thrived, but did not address hidden reasons why the data may be misleading.
Gross gaming revenue was €240m ($257m) for the quarter, an 18 percent increase from Q2 2022 and a 31.3 percent increase from Q3 2021, said the Director General for the Regulation of Gaming (DGOJ).
The €240m revenue was split 53 percent from casinos (€128m) and 37 percent from betting (€89m), with poker, bingo and competitions making up the remaining chunk.
Compared 2021's Q3, these numbers translate to a growth rate of 48.61 percent for betting.
The monthly average number of active gaming accounts in Q3 2022 was 999,322, which was a 0.07 percent decrease from the previous quarter, but represents an annual net increase of 9.18 percent.
Spain’s controversial gambling advertising restrictions came into effect in September 2021 (one month before the end of the fiscal third quarter) to much industry protest, which could account for some of the less positive Q3 2022 numbers. One such figure was new accounts, which fell by 19.93 percent compared with the same time the previous year.
VIXIO GamblingCompliance analysts attribute this to the limited sign-on bonuses on offer and limited advertising airtime. Bonus promotion costs were down 3.4 percent in Q3 2022, compared with the same quarter in 2021. Advertising spending was down 5.55 percent for Q3 for the same period.
Jorge Hinojosa, director of Spanish trade group JDigital, told Europa Press: "Contrary to what some voices may lead you to believe, advertising is a fundamental tool to channel the user towards licensed gambling websites, promoting safe, responsible and legal gambling."
An explanation for the seeming revenue recovery compared with the previous year, despite advertising restrictions having been introduced, could be that operators have found a way to work around changes in the market from 2021: primarily, the difficulty in imposing wagering limits on winning players.
Changes came into effect after a court ruling against bet365 and Betfair in July 2021, which meant that operators lost the automatic right to restrict the accounts of winning customers. This has made operators skittish to enforce limits for fear of being taken to court.
In practical terms, it also means that placing a limit takes weeks or more as it requires going through the legal system.
Margins have deteriorated significantly since this ruling and others upholding it.
“I have never seen anything like it in my life,” one sports-betting executive told the Legal Sports Review. “We knew the problems we were having but those Q3 numbers showed it was everyone in the market. It is industrial-scale bots and arbitrageurs, mostly operated from outside the country. You can see it is fraudulent activity because an account will log in from Madrid, then place bets from Barcelona.”
In the year since, the industry has vowed that it would prevent such activities with court orders and additional website security.