Online Poker Room Closure Signals More issues for Spain

Casino Gran MadridThe Casino Gran Madrid announced their plans to close online poker operations on July 31st , essentially hurting the already struggling online poker industry in Spain. The online poker room for the Casino Gran Madrid operated on the iPoker network’s ring fenced version which created gaming specifically for residents in Spain. With the online poker room’s closure, there are only five rooms remaining on the online poker network.

Staying alive in Spain is PremierPoker, Betfair, TitanBet, Sportium and Bet365. However, despite the number of rooms left in operation, it essentially does not matter. 888 Holdings and PokerStars have a 90% take on the market, which makes the closure of the Casino Gran Madrid poker room not so surprising.

Via email, the Casino Gran Madrid told online poker customers that they would be shutting down and only returning if they can offer a more appealing product. This could be seen as the poker room stating they did not have enough interested players to remain afloat.

While the online poker room is closing, Casino Gran Madrid has been able to keep a healthy online casino in operation. Players can actually use their online poker balances to play poker games, so there is no rush for those who will do so, to actually remove their monies from the online poker accounts.

Players who do not wish to use their poker funds for casino gaming can make a withdrawal until August 31st. VIP points can also be exchanged into cash during this time frame. VIP points can also be exchanged for live tournament buy-ins but the events must be scheduled for this year and players must tell the casino of their intentions by the end of August.

While the online poker room struggled and essentially closed up shop, the live poker room of the Casino Gran Madrid has stayed as busy as ever. The poker room was the first to offer PokerStars gaming with the roll out of the PokerStars LIVE event. The venue has also been the provider of European Poker Tour gaming as well as World Poker Tour and Estrellas Poker Tour events. The poker room of the casino has the ability to house over 20 poker tables with over 200 players being able to compete at one time. The room sees as many as 20,000 players or more each year coming through to enjoy quality poker gaming.

A big issue with online poker game play in Spain is the taxation and rake rates. Poker rooms must pay a tax of 25% on the gross gaming revenues while players must pay a personal tax rate of 20% on their net winnings when enjoying poker. For professionals, they must either play on unregulated poker sites to avoid these high fees or leave the country to play elsewhere.

This makes it rough on online poker rooms as they do not have the traffic numbers to keep up with revenues needed to stay operational. This can cause such sites as the one operated by the Casino Gran Madrid to shut down and potentially stay shut down permanently.

For now, there are still options for online poker gaming in Spain. It will be interesting to see how the other online poker sites fair and if we shall soon see additional sites shutting down due to lower player traffic. Only time will tell if Spain will continue to struggle with online poker gaming or if the industry can find a turnaround and begin to see nice numbers in player traffic as well as revenue earnings.