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Analysing the data: Breaking down Spain’s 2023 in numbers

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Spain is rapidly emerging as one of Europe’s most exciting markets for growth. We take a look inside the numbers – with a positive 2023 for the country’s online gambling market.

The headline number from Spain’s Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ) is the €1.24bn (£1.06bn/$1.35bn) in gross gambling revenue (GGR) for 2023, up year-on-year by well over a quarter at 28.4%.

Spain’s GGR has now increased every year since 2013 bar 2021. The 28.4% hike is the largest year-on-year rise since 2017.

Deposits and withdrawals rose by 15.5% and 10.1% respectively. The number of active gamblers also edged up by 2.7% to over 1.6 million.

Casino and betting on the rise in Spain

Of that €1.24bn in GGR, casino led the way with 50.5% of the total, accumulating €624.8m in revenue for 2023. Meanwhile, betting wasn’t far behind, accounting for 39.8% with €491.8m of GGR. Poker, bingo and contests then lagged behind with €115.3m, €14.4m and €480,000 respectively.

Looking at those numbers a little closer, the casino sector grew by 25.3% from 2022’s figures, which the DGOJ largely attributed to slots. These now account for 61.6% of the casino segment, again up by 28.1% year-on-year.

Betting grew even more than casino, with a 48.7% hike on in-play sports bets helping the overall sector to sizeable growth of 36.6%. Other fixed-odds betting also rocketed up by 191.9% year-on-year.

Poker experienced a 16.9% year-on-year rise, while bingo also increased, albeit by a slender 0.9%. The contest sector was an outlier, though, shrinking by nearly half at 48% over 2023.

Marketing up in 2023 despite increased regulation

The DGOJ reported a 7.6% jump in marketing expenditure for 2023, reaching €402.8m for the year. Sponsorship grew the most, up by 38.4% year-on-year, while affiliates, advertising and promotions increased by 21.7%, 9.2% and 2.8% respectively.

Of the €402.8m in marketing spend, promotions accounted for €199.9m, while advertising was responsible for €148m. The rest was made up by €50.6m in affiliation expenses and €4.3m in sponsorship.

The increase in marketing expenditure was in spite of the DGOJ looking to further tighten the already tight restrictions on advertising in 2023, extending them to lottery.

The controversial 2020 Royal Decree of Commercial Communications banned sponsorship deals with operators. Advertising on TV, radio and YouTube was also restricted to the hours of 1am to 5am. Across social media platforms, operators in Spain can only share ads with their followers.

The marketing restrictions come as part of a wider push in Spain to enhance the country’s responsible gambling measures. These have met fierce opposition from the industry, with Spanish online operator association JDigital highlighting that the country already has one of the strictest regulatory regimes in Europe.

In March 2023, Spain’s council of ministers approved over 30 youth-focused measures, including defining at-risk players as those who accumulate a net loss of €600 – or €200 if the player is under 25-years-old – over a period of three straight weeks.

Operators are now required to send a message warning at-risk individuals if potentially harmful behaviour is detected, as well as a monthly summary of their gaming activity. Also, users who are in this category will not be able to use credit cards to finance their gambling spend.

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