The unemployment rate in Spain is still very high, therefor Spanish politicians look for ways to create rapidly new jobs. One is the gampling sector. Spaniards are very easy with gambling. In every bar, and there are many in Spain, you find a slot machine and men of all ages trying their luck. Also the legislation is quite generous with gambling. Many reasons for big investors to look for opportunities in setting up casinos in the country.
Spaniards are not just passionate about food, they also love gambling. It’s estimated that the Spanish gamble well over euros 1.9 billion a year equal to around euros 480 per head or some 15 per cent of the average net household income. In consequence the casino sector is very important employer in Spain. in 2014 they achieved just in Madrid a turnover of 146 Mio.. This also due to the permission of urban casinos in the Spanish capital. The 30 billion US dollar Mega-Project of the US investor Sheldon Adelson, Eurovegas, was stopped because of public protest, but there is now a Chinese group that wants to start a new casino business in Madrid. Also the close to Madrid situated tourist town Toledo will open up this year a Casino where another 160 jobs are created.
Betting is a big business
Spaniards bet on almost anything, including lotteries, football and racing pools, horse racing (illegal betting shops, where punters bet on foreign horse and greyhound racing, are common in resort areas), bingo, slot machines, casinos, and the big jai-alai games in the Basque Country and Madrid. The most popular form of gambling is the state national lottery (Lotería Nacional) run in aid of charities and the Catholic Church. The sponsor of Real Madrid is bwin, fast growing in Spain as well.
The world’s biggest lottery, ‘the fat one’ El Gordo, is held at Christmas and consists of 108 series of 66,000 tickets, each costing 200 euros. ‘The fat one’ has its own website (http://www.elgordo.com) and there are several villages in Spain that regularly sell winning tickets for El Gordo, such as the tiny village of Sort (meaning ‘luck’ in Catalan!), in the Pyrenees where coachloads of hopeful lottery ticket buyers flock every autumn!
Spain has some 20 casinos, and there’s also one in Gibraltar. Very visitied is the one in Marbella, where a lot of rich people pass their vacation. In the last year online gambling has gained market share. In Europe the country is leading as well the fast growing sector sector of online casinos and betting, just the UK is gambling and betting more. Madrid is right now the hotest gambling capital in Europe that attracts especially Asian gamblers.