The Spanish and their Love of Gambling

El Gordo (the fat one).
El Gordo (the fat one).

The gambling landscape of Spain changed forever in 2011 when the Spanish Gambling Act was passed and although gambling has been legal in the country for the past 30 years, it wasn’t in the 17 autonomous communities. These areas include the Balearic and Canary Islands, Madrid and the Basque Country.

It was thought that the act being passed would harmonise the regulation of online betting. While it permits the act of gambling in the autonomous communities; these countries can continue to determine the policies within the regions. The vast majority of Spaniards would have welcomed the passing of the law; since the country gambles a higher proportion of their income than most of the other countries in the world. It was estimated the Spaniards bet over €1.9 billion a year. That is €480 per head, and 15% of the average net income of the household.

How the Spanish gamble

There is no specific variation of gambling that appeals the most to Spaniards; they love all types. However, it also depends on the region; such is the case with the big jai-alai games in Basque County and Madrid. These games are hugely popular in both these areas, and prize money can range into the thousands.

However, undoubtedly, the most popular way of gambling for all Spaniards is the national lottery. The game funds charities and the Catholic Church, with tickets sold at all street vendors and kiosks. The most popular event of the Spanish calendar revolves around the lottery; as many adults would tell you how they crowded around the television on Christmas Day to watch the draw in El Gordo (the fat one). Tickets for this cost €200, which means it encourages groups of people to form small groups with everyone chipping in for a share. The total amount which is spent on El Gordo per year is estimated to be €1.7 billion.

If you are lucky enough to win big, then you can take your ticket to a bank, and they will collect your prize. If players are unfortunate on this attempt, then they can enter the second-largest lottery called El Nino on the 5th January.

Away from the lottery, one of the most popular ways to gamble is at the casino. There are 20 land-based casinos in the country and an additional one in Gibraltar. The Spanish are huge fans of all things casino, and that is one of the reasons why the Gambling Act was such welcome news. The most popular games for Spaniards are French and American roulette, blackjack and the slots. Unlike online casinos, the land-based establishments require an entrance fee, and visitors must be dressed in smart attire.

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