As travel becomes more and more restrictive around the world, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to travel virtually and experience different slot landscapes across the globe. 

In the latest edition of Around the World in 80 Slots, we travelled to sunny Spain, guided by Mario Benito, chief commercial officer at R. Franco Digital, one of the most established gaming companies within the country, to take a deeper look into the slot market. 

“Spain is a growing market when it comes to online slots and this is demonstrated by the fact that new content providers continue to enter the market,” commented Benito. “At R. Franco, we integrate this external online casino content into the IRIS platform to give Spanish players the widest possible choice. Spain’s market is following a consolidation process where all the major content providers – either directly or through aggregators – are now active.”

Looking back at 2020 saw Spain see an upturn in online casino, with slots in particular, with the publication of official data in the first three quarters of last year highlighting that GGR from online gaming, including slots, following an upward trend. 

Q1, 2020 saw €43m, up from €37m in 2019. Q2 produced €52m, a rise from €40m the year previous and Q3 brought in €49m, up from €38m in 2019. 

“From this evidence, we can estimate that the overall annual rate of GGR for online casinos in Spain improved substantially across the year. From our own experience, we noticed higher activity on our games, particularly driven by the cancellation of sports because of the pandemic outbreak.”

Comparing the country’s sports betting environment in Spain, we asked Benito what influence does this community have on the growth of online casino, with the CCO noting it is ‘not easy’ to convert a sports betting customer to online casino in Spain with the ‘usual’ cross-promotional tools. 

“However, it is the case that there is interest when those cross-promotions are focused on live casino and virtual sports. There are several successful cases of conversion between these players, but they are very specific.

“During Q3 2019, the split of GGR in Spain between sports betting and casino was 52.56 per cent to 34.73 per cent respectively. Comparing those figures a year later, sports betting stands at 43.22 per cent and casinos 42.55 per cent. This shows that the conversion of players into casinos increased substantially.”

Spain is currently facing a strong restriction to advertising and promotions of casino games within the country. In November of last year, the Spanish government passed a new legislation which prohibited the signing of any new sponsorship deals with operators. 

Moreover, at the start of this month, gambling or betting ads weren’t allowed to be broadcast; no people or characters, real or fictitious, of relevance or public notoriety appeared. Looking towards May, the inclusion of promotional bonuses in advertisements and player recruitment instruments will be prohibited.

Commenting on the upcoming restrictions, Benito said: “These new restrictions will clearly affect the online gaming sector when it comes to player acquisition. However, it is also true that companies that have worked hard on customer retention will see that effort rewarded. 

“These types of restrictions are now being implemented across Europe and is becoming another impact of regulated markets that suppliers simply have to include in their planning.

“Companies that have been established in the Spanish market from the beginning know their customers well. This will be vital and as we say in Spain, it is important to ‘save them in gold cloth’, as promotions that operators can offer will only be possible for existing customers. The reputation of the operator will be of even greater importance than before.”

Looking at the typical demographics of Spanish slot players, R. Franco’s CCO, noted that the majority of players are 18 and ‘thereafter’ anyone has a right to play responsibly. 

“As partners in the most important gaming sector associations in Spain, R. Franco has the same firm conviction as all our associates in the pursuit of the same objective,” he noted. “We want clients who enjoy the game as a leisure activity and who play responsibly. When we detect behaviours other than this objective, we act comprehensively to avoid them.

“Official data shows that the most relevant active players by age range are between 26 and 35 years old. Established, knowledgeable and responsible members of the public, they seek gambling as one more activity in their daily lives.”

We asked Bentio if they develop slot machines specifically thinking about the Spanish market and how they differ visually and mechanically from the more international offers which he responded are based on ‘target markets’.

“We develop our slots based on target markets. After more than 50 years in the market and with a catalogue that exceeds 1,000 titles either for the land-based market or online gaming, we have always worked through conception, analysis and development when thinking about each market.

“Specifically for online gambling, we have deployed five-reel slots and we currently launch one totally new slot every month. These include differential characteristics between them. R. Franco is a specialist in three-reel slots, which are the most played in Spain on a land-based level, and of which we are leaders. We will shortly deploy these developments online, either on our own or with our partners.”

Looking towards the future, we asked Benito how an international slot provider could better attract Spanish players.He concluded:I would answer this with what they already know. That is, take exquisite care of the client and count among their offer companies that know the Spanish market well. I am also proud to say that R. Franco has to be one of their partners.”