Spain is a very gambling-friendly nation with many legal online casinos and brick-and-mortar establishments licensed to offer real money games to the public. In addition to casino gambling, Spain regulates sports betting, online poker and bingo. Whatever you’re looking, there’s a good chance you’ll find it in Spain.
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Gambling laws in Spain require operators to hold a license from the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego in order to legally offer casino games, poker, bingo, sports betting and hose racing betting. The laws are permissive in that they give operators a wide range of options for offering real money gambling, but they are strict in the sense that operators are held to high standards.
Most of the world’s biggest gaming brands are currently licensed by Spanish authorities. For that reason, we recommend that you stick with licensed casino sites as opposed to playing at unregulated offshore casinos. There is no need to deal with shady operators when there are so many legitimate options that are now legal in Spain.
The sites that we recommend on this page are all licensed in Spain, but there are two steps you can take to ensure any particular casino site holds a valid license. First, the Spanish gambling regulator has a website that lists all licensed operators. You can visit that page here to see which sites are currently licensed.
You can also simply look at the domain of any gambling site. If it ends in .es as opposed to .com or some other extension, it is probably a legitimate online casino. Spanish gaming laws require all licensees to host their websites on .es domains.
Best Spanish Casino Sites
Now that we’ve laid out a case for sticking with regulated gambling operators, it’s time to discuss the order of rankings you see above. There are dozens of options to choose from, but we chose these in particular for concrete reasons.
The Spanish government monitors all casino sites for adherence to basic standards of safety and security, but we also like to go by each site’s actual reputation in the real world. For example, the biggest names in international gambling have been operating for decades – predating even the internet itself.
It is one thing to have a stamped seal of approval from the government, but we like it even better when sites have a verifiable track record dating back for so many years. Furthermore, such extensive experience tends to lead to a better experience for us, the players. They know from experience what people like, how to develop great games, how to run worthwhile promotions and so on. It’s just a more polished experience overall when you play at established, successful online casinos.
Of course, we also take all the other usual factors into consideration when ranking online casinos in any country:
- Game variety
- Return-to-player (i.e. the ratio of total wagers that are returned to players as winnings)
- Length of time in operation
- Ease of depositing
- Speed of withdrawals
- Software quality
- Mobile gambling apps
- Non-casino options such as sports betting, poker, etc.
- Customer support competence and response times
Gambling Laws in Spain
The current gambling laws in Spain were established in 2011 with the passage of Ley 13/2011 (Law 13/2011). The law went into effect fairly quickly and a land-based casino received the first license under the new framework in May of 2017. Since then, dozens of online casino sites have also received licenses to operate openly in Spain.
Ley 13/2011 was is a wide-ranging law that was designed to bring the gambling industry into the fold of government regulation, create consumer protections, protect at-risk gamblers and tax the industry. Lawmakers specifically designed Ley 13/2011 to be lenient enough that operators would actually apply, but also strict enough to ensure the integrity of the industry.
For example, all would-be licensees must submit a business plan to the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego and submit to a software audit to verify that the games are truly fair and random. Operators must also be located in a European Economic Area country, be adequately financed, hire competent technical staff to manage the games and submit a plethora of financial documents before being considered for licensing.
There have been some complaints regarding tax rates levied on gambling operators, but overall the industry is healthy and viable. In 2015, the online gambling industry alone broke records with gross revenues of €319.6 million and total turnover in excess of €8 billion. Spain is now home to one of the largest gambling industries in the world.
The one problem area that continues to struggle is online poker. Current regulations enforce a “ring-fencing” stipulation on licensed operators. In other words, the player pool on Spanish-licensed poker sites is segregated from the rest of the world – poker players in Spain may only play with other players located in Spain. This has dogged online poker for years as it limits the number of players that can be found online at any time.
Apart from that issue, the overall gambling industry in Spain is healthy. In 2015, authorities finally legalized online slots to give us the full gambling experience all under one regulatory umbrella. With that, Spanish casino sites became competitive on the world stage and business is good.
It is not a crime to play at unlicensed casino sites in Spain, but there is no need to with the wide range of games and operators to choose from that are all legal and regulated. However, anyone who offers illegal gambling services to customers faces some very serious penalties. Organisations found to be offering casino games in Spain without the proper license can be fined up to €50 million and be disqualified for licensing in the future.
It is also highly illegal to advertise, sponsor or promote illegal online casinos in Spain. The penalty for doing so can be as high as €1 million. This is worth keeping in mind if you run a gambling-related website, even if it is just informational in nature.
Wes Burns co-founded OnlineCasinoSites.com with a mission to help gamblers understand and navigate the regulated online casino market in all countries around the world. Wes is a respected gambling journalist, working in the industry since 2008.