Poker News

Depending on your perspective, this first week of June is either a great week for online poker in Europe or an “oh great, more of this” week. This is the week that a number of poker rooms were granted the first operating licenses in Spain and several just went live on Tuesday.

Those who take the “glass half full” approach are happy that another country has officially made online poker legal and established regulations to protect players. Those in the “glass half empty” camp are going to lament the fact that Spanish players must play on “dot es” domains and will be segregated from the rest of the world. It should be noted, however, that this might change; it is possible that Spanish players will be able to compete against their international brethren as soon as early next year.

Amongst those operators granted licenses are PokerStars, PartyPoker, Ongame, 888, and Microgaming. These operators have launched the following poker rooms: (PokerStars) (PartyPoker) (Microgaming) (888),, (Ongame – operated by Goalwin) (Ongame – operated by Paf)

Naturally, being far and away the industry leader, PokerStars is the room that has garnered the most attention. Its new Spanish poker room launched on the morning of June 5th and within a couple hours was migrating its customers’ “dot com” accounts over to the Spanish site. Interestingly, though, the Spanish Gambling Commission (DGOJ) handed down a “clarification” the previous day stating that accounts, including cash balances and loyalty statuses, could not be transferred to the “dot es” site. Despite that, though, PokerStars migrated accounts.

PokerStars has not rolled out its full roster of games yet, limiting stakes to no higher than €.5/€1, even though stakes up €5/€10 are permitted. Zoom Poker and badugi are not available yet, either, though they should be at some point.

In mid-May, it looked like there may be a sizable obstacle for the poker rooms when it came to obtaining a license. At the end of 2011, a new conservative government came into power in Spain and decided that all online gaming operators must pay taxes on revenues made within the country dating back to 2008. The Tax Fraud Office embarked upon an investigation to determine the tax bills. It was thought that the payments required could potentially be deal breakers for some online poker rooms that were not prepared to cut checks that could reach into nine-figures.

By the looks of who was granted a license, it appears that these tax issues were solved. agreed to pay up to €33.6 million in back taxes, while 888 will be handing over just short of €9 million. It is unknown at this time how much PokerStars was required to pay, though eGaming Review reported in May that the bill could be around €200 million.

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