From pristine beaches to raging bulls, Spain has something to offer almost any adventurer. The country is known for its siesta culture, incredible food like paella, and football teams—practically necessities among most Spaniards.
Due to this love of sports and incredible way of life that celebrates almost everything, sports betting and gambling have a strong foundation in the country. More than 1.1 million players actively participate in online sports betting, while around 650,000 enjoy playing through online casinos.
This large (and growing) industry is thanks, in part, to the legislation that allows gambling in the country. However, if you’re not from the area, you may be unsure whether your preferred form of gambling is legal.
To get you up to speed, keep reading to learn about Spain’s current gambling regulations.
History of Gambling in Spain
The first thing to note is that gambling has not always been legal in Spain. Beginning as cultural clubs as far back as the 1880s, what would today be considered a casino was simply a place for gentlemen to gather and play pool. Occasionally, a wager would be placed on a game.
These cultural clubs were immensely popular, and many new ones were opened—particularly after the death of tyrannical King Ferdinand VII. However, after the civil war of 1936 racked the country, games of chance were outlawed, and gambling was effectively made illegal.
For many years, those looking to bet on anything had no option but to do it in the shadows. However, by 1977, reform gripped the country again, and almost all forms of gambling were legalised.
Once the gambling industry had a substantial footprint in Spain in 2006, the government decided to formalise laws to control wagers. The new laws legalised online gambling in the form of sports betting. They also made allowances to allow the 17 different regions of Spain to license physical operators in their areas as they saw fit.
While the move was welcomed, it was not comprehensive and left many grey areas. Madrid, however, moved quickly and became the first region in the country to issue licenses. However, online casinos like those reviewed on casinos.com were still not accounted for and were, therefore, considered illegal.
Spanish Gambling Authority
By 2010, online casinos had exploded internationally, and Spain was missing out heavily on the new market. To combat this, the government created a special commission—the Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ)—to work out the finer details of online gambling in the country.
A year later, in 2011, the commission released the Spanish Gambling Act—new legislation that covers all gambling within the Spanish borders. Under the act, online gambling, including slots and poker, was officially legalised.
Part of legalising online casinos was under the condition that any online casino offering services within the country needed to be licensed by the DGOJ. To get certified, sites must apply through the appropriate procedures and provide independent testing and validation that their games are fair and in no way rigged.
Because all sites operating within the country must be licensed by the DGOJ, offshore operators and those working from other countries are strictly prohibited from offering their services there.
Aside from the regulations currently in force over what operators are allowed to offer services in the country, the government has also passed other subsequent laws that deal directly with gambling.
Amongst these is Law 13/2011. Speaking to the winnings gained by players while gambling, the law states that all winnings shall be seen as a form of income and will, therefore, be taxable.
Initially, this law introduced a blanket 20% tax on all winnings. While some regions in the country have amended this amount slightly, online gambling has been given stricter taxation in almost all areas, with online gambling winnings averaging 25%.
The final substantial law regarding gambling is relatively new and is formed by an amendment to the 2011 Spanish Gambling Act. Under the new law, ratified in 2022, advertising of any form of gambling within the country is severely limited—similar to changes made in the UK during the same year.
Aside from banning sponsorship deals between sports organisations/teams and gambling or betting operators, the law also enforces that gambling advertising may only be run between 1 am and 5 am.
While these changes to the law have received various outcries, the government insists they are in the citizens’ best interest. It claims these changes are logical to help reduce gambling addiction and irresponsible behaviour while placing bets. Whether or not that’s true, however, only time will tell.