In late April the Spanish market was shaken by very important news: after a long time waiting, the Spanish authorities announced their intention to regulate exchange betting as well as online slots. Both products (more importantly the latter) were important missing parts of a regulatory framework that would allow operators to have reasonable perspectives of sustainable development of their activities in Spain.
Actually, these were not the only regulatory developments that were expected to be immediately released by the Spanish authorities. For example, the authorities had announced their intention to amend the current system of betting catalogue, liberalising it (so that operators would be free to offer bets on whatever competitions and markets they wanted, instead of being forced to operate pursuant to a static and closed catalogue set forth by the authorities).
Nonetheless, this excitement has been moderated as a consequence of the sudden leaving of Mr. Enrique Alejo from his post of General Director at the Spanish gambling authority. Indeed, on April 24 public confirmation was given of Mr. Alejo leaving to RTVE, the Spanish public broadcasting group, in order to become its corporate chief officer. This meant that his post at the Spanish regulator was left vacant and, therefore, a new general director, had to be appointed.
Initially, such an appointment appeared to be a formal issue rather than a material question that could affect the regulatory path that had been defined by the Spanish authorities. Nevertheless, almost a month has gone by and no general director has been appointed yet. Regardless of the fact that the above-mentioned regulatory works are going on, the lack of the ultimate decision maker is certainly a burden in order to fulfil reasonable timings for achieving the expected developments.
Sources from the Spanish regulator have been recurrently stating that this issue should not materially affect the calendar initially set forth in connection with this process (pursuant to which online slots should be regulated before the end of this year). Regardless of this, it is obvious that the appointment of a new general director and the time this person will require in order to have a full understanding of the issues that are going on from regulatory standpoint will have an impact on the timings of this important process.
Given the importance of the questions at stake we should be expecting that the authorities quickly solve this interlude and move forward with the amendments to be introduced in order to make the Spanish market fully competitive and attractive for both operators and customers.