eGaming Review January 2014 - Page 57

Online slots and exchange betting were initially approved by the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) in April following a consultation process that spanned several months. Although it was hoped that both products could go live before the end of 2013, those hopes have failed to materialise and operators are still unable to launch these products into the marketplace. Analysts had expected casino's percentage of total GGR to rise to around 30% with slot content, however Q3 figures show this has slipped to 16%. In comparison, Italy saw casino revenues almost double year-on-year since it introduced online slots in December 2012. “These games, especially casino slots, are a key factor for online casinos to be competitive and absorb a substantial amount of grey or illegal gaming from the environment,” Spanish gaming consultant Eduardo Morales-Hermo says. A major turn-off for operators has been the country’s comparatively extortionate tax rate of 25% of GGR. Betsson CEO Magnus Silverberg recently dismissed speculation suggesting that the Swedish operator was mulling a move into the country, considering the gross gaming tax rate to be too high to make such a move possible. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Morales-Hermo argues that reducing the tax rate to 10-15% of net gaming revenue and resolving the VAT burden for operators based in Spain could tempt more operators into the country, warning that a lack of movement could have the opposite effect and existing operators could simply leave if there are no signs of the tax rate lowering. The biggest challenge for Spain in 2014, however, with a high tax rate eating into margins and reducing competitiveness, is the black market. “The biggest challenge for the Spanish market in 2014 is to determine what the objectives are and if they want to absorb the overall online gaming demand within the regulated environment,” says Morales-Hermo. 10 RMG COMES FACE TO FACE WITH SOCIAL The lines between social and realmoney gaming started to blur, but few winners emerged WHAT HAPPENED? Operators have long recognised the benefits of incorporating social features into their games – achievements and missions, side-game-style promotions, bonus games, better uses of leader boards and buddy systems. Adam Krejcik, managing director of digital and interactive gaming at boutique research firm Eilers Research, believes this is a trend which is likely to continue in the future. “If it helps retention, engagement, and monetisation you can be assured that this trend will continue,” he says. Perhaps the biggest story came in August 2013 when Irish operator Paddy Power, launched its real-money Facebook sports betting app, Paddy Power In Play. The app allows users to log-in with their existing Paddy Power account as well as create a new account within the app and offers a large range of sports betting markets. Social elements feat