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UPDATE 1-Betfair awarded Spanish online gaming licences
June 7, 2012 / 6:46 AM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-Betfair awarded Spanish online gaming licences

* To pay gaming revenue tax of 25 pct on Spain ops

* To offer sportsbook, certain casino products in Spain

LONDON, June 7 (Reuters) - Betfair, the world’s biggest betting exchange, has become the latest British gambling group to be awarded online gaming licences in Spain as it looks to take advantage of the cash-strapped country’s newly regulated gaming market.

Betfair said on Thursday it had been awarded online gambling licences in Spain, enabling it to offer sportsbook and casino products there, including roulette and blackjack games.

Last week Spain awarded online gaming licences to companies including Bwin.party digital and Sportingbet in a move that will raise tax revenue and remove regulatory uncertainty hanging over operators. Some 60 firms have applied to operate in Spain so far.

William Hill, Britain’s biggest bookmaker, and online gaming company 888 have already been granted licences.

Betfair, founded 12 years ago by one-time professional gambler Andrew Black and former JP Morgan trader Ed Wray, said it would pay a gross gaming revenue tax of 25 percent on its Spanish operations - a tax that the company has been paying since May 2011 when Spain’s new gambling act was introduced.

Spain has raised around 70 million euros ($87.5 million) in back taxes in recent weeks from companies who fell foul of decades-old decrees governing gambling.

Betfair, which recently won one of the first online gambling licences issued in Germany, last month said it had reached a 10 million euros settlement with Spanish authorities.

Future income from taxing online gaming will be a useful source of revenue for Spain as it struggles to rein in its deficit. The country is a major sporting power and revenues in the sector are estimated to be over 800 million euros in 2014, according to gaming association Jdigital.

Shares in Betfair, which have fallen 5 percent in 2012, closed at 717.50 pence on Wednesday, valuing the group at around 730 million pounds ($1.13 billion).

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