Spain’s Online Gaming Market Shows 50% Year-On-Year Growth

Spain’s gambling ecosystem is strong on two fronts – it enjoys significant growth while keeping the gambling harm rate low. The latest results from the country’s gaming regulator shows that the online gaming segment is really picking up, a hint at the changes taking place in the industry.

The Spanish flag flies on a building in Madrid
The Spanish flag flies on a building in Madrid. The country’s online gaming segment saw 50% year-on-year growth in the first quarter of 2023. (Image: Alamy)

The General Directorate and Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ, for its Spanish acronym) reports that the gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the first quarter of the year was €304.9 million (US$332.22 million). This represents an increase of 50.9% compared to the same period last year.

However, it’s also a drop of 2.7% against the results of the last quarter of 2022. This isn’t a large surprise, as Q4 is often a slower time of the year due to the approaching holidays.

Double-digit Growth

The total GGR includes €130.6 million (US$142.3 million) in online sports betting, a year-on-year jump of 42.8%. Online casino gaming added 47.02%, closing at €143.3 million (US$156.13 million). Bingo and poker also saw growth, adding 1.1% and 8.97% in their respective GGRs.

Poker’s improvement came from an increase of 5.01% in activity compared to the previous quarter and 24.92% compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Compared to Q4 of last year, tournament poker increased by 8.42%, while cash games decreased by 2.72%.

In spite of the year-on-year improvement, the betting segment showed a decrease compared to the previous quarter. It lost 7.65%, but retail sports betting did, as well. That segment receded by 11.21%

Online bets on horse races were down, losing 5.92%. However, wagers on “other” sports were up 37.7%. The DGOJ didn’t break down what that segment included.

In the casino segment, there was growth of 0.64% compared to the fourth quarter of 2022 and a year-on-year variation of 29.2%. This annual growth occurred mostly in slot machines, with 31.3%, and in live roulette, with 32.2%.

In this quarter, GGR from sweepstakes and similar contests experienced an increase of 730.4% and a decrease of -4.9% in the annual variation rate. This segment presented an irregular pattern, with annual variation rates in the first quarter of 99.5% in 2020, -7.6% in 2021 and -85.15% last year.

Deposits and withdrawals of the players increased from a year ago by 22.7% and 15.68%, respectively. With respect to the previous quarter, deposits decreased by 0.31% and withdrawals increased by 0.78%.

Regulatory Reforms Aren’t Hindering Growth

Spain has been introducing a number of reforms for the gambling industry over the past several years, including greater restrictions on marketing and sponsorships. Using the latest figures as a guide, two years after many changes were made, it’s obvious that the reforms aren’t hindering growth.

Marketing spend in the quarter was €93.3 million (US$101.66 million), broken down into affiliate spending at €11.8 million (US$12.85 million), sponsorships at €1.22 million (US$133 million), promotions €50.2 million (US$54.7 million) and advertising €30.03 million (US$33.01 million). Compared to the previous quarter, this expense decreased by 13.08%, and it also represents a dip of 0.81% from a year earlier.

Advertising presented a drop with respect to the quarter and the previous year of 22.8% and 12.75%, respectively. Affiliate spending decreased by 19.9% from the prior quarter and increased by 32.45% from the first quarter of last year.

Sponsorship spending decreased by 30.48% quarter-over-quarter and increased by 93.18% year-on-year. Promotional spending, another of the DGOJ’s targets, decreased by 3.26% compared to Q4 and increased by 0.27% from Q1 of 2022.

The monthly average of active game accounts is 1,158,628, which implies a decrease of 2.57% compared to the previous quarter and an annual increase of 11.06%. The monthly average of new accounts is 111,390 users, with a quarterly decrease of 15.78% and an annual drop of 2.68%.

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