At the end of 2020, all online casinos in Spain, bookmakers and even the media themselves were notified that their strategy for marketing and advertising bonuses, promotions and, in general, attracting new players, would have to change. totally.
In May 2021, this regulation became a reality and, with it, came the total disappearance of bonuses for new players; the prohibition of sports sponsorship -a hard blow for most of the clubs in Spain-, and a restrictive adjustment to the type of communications, their schedules and the content allowed to be shown to the public.
The reason for this strong restriction on online casinos and bookmakers?
The main reason was the arrival of quarantines, social distancing and, in more colloquial terms, the fact that the Spanish were staying more at home.
Those in charge of regulating online gambling saw the arrival of the pandemic as a danger for the youngest, the large amount of free time they had at home made them vulnerable and more exposed to the risks of gambling.
Although the regulation did not arrive until 2021 (more than a year after the start of the health crisis), this was the main reason for Garzón and his team to promote the restriction of one of the fastest growing digital industries in recent years in Europe.
At that time, the prohibition of the so-called welcome bonuses and with them, the possibility of attracting new players, was already worrying. Today, after almost a year since the beginning of the regulation, the 2021 state online gaming market report has come to confirm some of the biggest fears of online betting and casino companies.
Economic effects of gambling regulation on online gambling
The main confirmation comes from GGR (Gross Gaming Revenue) of 2021, which shows a drop of -4.17% compared to 2020.
However, deposits and withdrawals in online betting houses and casinos continue their growing trend, reaching an increase in deposits 21.64% and the withdrawals 34.91%.
Unsurprisingly, marketing spend by casinos fell less than 1%, a considerably low difference if we compare it with the strict measures. But upon further analysis, we see that online casinos focused their marketing investment on affiliateswith an increase of 6.69%. Sports sponsorship, of course, was reduced by more than 20%.
Online casino and bookmaker affiliate marketing spend grew the most in 2021 vs. the 2020.
In total, the number of active players did not fall that much, just 0.61% compared to the previous year, reaching 1,470,303 players. New players, on the other hand, were also down from the previous year.
New players dropped from 298K to 260K between 2020 and 2021.
Segment by segment: the winners and losers
Casino has been the segment that has continued to grow since 2017.
The regulation affected each segment of online gaming differently. As we will see below, there are branches that grew and others decreased, so it is difficult to find a particular cause between the differentiation of the figures. Let’s see each one of them.
According to the DGOJ (General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling), sports betting decreased by up to 16.23% compared to 2020.
What the DGOJ affirms is that this drop is mainly due to the drop in counterparty sports betting (both conventional and live), which decreased in the last year (2021) on average by 14%. These normally represent the vast majority of the betting market.
In addition, there was also a sharp drop in other types of fixed-equity bets (-69.93%) and in horse racing bets, which presented losses amounting to 4.49 million euros.
Bingo was one of the branches of the game that declined. Although it was not much, its fall is around 12.41%.
As can be seen in the graph above, from 2018 to 2020 bingo grew from 13 million to 17 million, but in 2021 it fell back to 14 million.
However, it seems that the trend is just as variable over the last 5 years.
Casino: the winner
The casino segment was the winner or, at least, the only one that had a favorable annual variation that reached 16.07%.
This growth, as confirmed by the State Online Gaming Market report, is mainly due to the performance of slot machines.
The DGOJ also confirms that the segment of Slots it has been the only one that has had a growing annual variation since 2015. In 2021, slot machines accounted for 59.29% of the growth of the casino segment and had an annual variation of 23.08%.
Other winning games are live roulette (18.16%), while conventional online roulette decreased (-21.41%).
Blackjack and Punto y Banca have a negative annual variation: the first of -5.76% and the second, becoming almost non-existent with a fall of -99.36%.
Conclusion: online gambling survives restrictions
The economic impact on online casinos and bookmakers has been felt, but less strongly than some people indicated in 2020 when the regulation was announced.
The hardest hit sector is, without a doubt, sports betting, with a notable drop due to the absence of promotions and incentives for new bettors.
The casino segment, hand-in-hand with slot machines, has been the fastest growing in recent years, backed by a strong push from affiliate marketing.