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Spanish igaming revenue grows despite betting declines in Q3

| By Robin Harrison
Spain’s online gaming market saw revenue grow 2.8% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2020, with a decline in sports betting offset by growth from other verticals.

Revenue for the three months to 30 September grew to €197.2m (£176.9m/$241.9m), with amounts staked by players growing 11.9% to €853.3m. 

This was largely down to a continued strong performance form the online casino vertical, which saw revenue rise 26.0% year-on-year to €83.9m, leaving it only marginally behind sports betting as the main source of revenue for licensees. 

Casino’s total was actually down 10.3% quarter-over-quarter, having reached €93.5m in Q2, when it was comfortably out in front as the largest vertical in terms of revenue. 

Sports betting, meanwhile, enjoyed something of a recovery in Q3, with revenue up 25.1% from Q2 to €85.2m. This, however, still represented a 15.4% decline on Q3 2019’s revenue. 

While sporting action such as Spain’s La Liga and the Champion’s League resumed during the third quarter, this was offset by declines in revenue from betting on horse racing and non-sporting events. 

The return of sports also suggested activity shifted from other forms of gambling back to betting. Bingo, poker and real-money contests all reporting a similar pattern to online casino, with revenue down quarter-on-quarter, but up year-over-year.

Poker’s revenue of €23.0m represented a 39.8% drop on the second quarter, but a 12.4% improvement on Q3 2019. Bingo, from a smaller base, saw revenue fall 22.9% from Q2, to €3.9m, but again this represented a year-on-year increase, of 22.6%. 

Contests were as usual the smallest source of regulated igaming revenue, making up €1.2m of the quarterly total. This represented a 70.6% drop from Q2, but a 58.4% jump on the prior year’s total. Spanish regulator La Direcciòn General del Ordenaciōn del Juego (DGOJ) noted that the vertical tended to see performance fluctuate in the third quarter, either rising or falling significantly. 

Again, the return of live sports saw marketing spend by Spanish licensees jump significantly. The total spent, €150.1m, represented a 269.5% jump on Q2, and an 81.4% rise compared to Q3 2019. 

This also reflected the end of temporary restrictions on advertising brought in early in the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, to protect players under lockdown. These were repealed early in June, before being adopted as part of a package of new gambling ad controls implemented by the country’s government in November.

In Q3, the bulk of marketing spend went on bonus offers – something heavily restricted under the new advertising controls – at €82.4m, with a further €51.8m invested in advertising. Sponsorship made up €6.5m of the total, while spending with affiliates was the only area to fall year-on-year, to €9.4m. 

This did appear to have a positive knock-on effect on the number of active gambling accounts, which averaged 881,755 in Q3, up 37.1% on Q2 or 1.4% year-on-year. 

Publication of the figures comes as the Spanish government prepares further restrictions for the industry, designed to ramp up player and youth protection in the market.