2. Gambling activity control

Gambling activity control

DGOJ activity index

 

For specific technical information on supervision and control activities, consult the section for this purpose on the Directorate-General's website.

It is the responsibility of the DGOJ to ensure the integrity, security, reliability and transparency of gambling operations, as well as compliance with the regulations in force and the conditions established for the operation of gambling activities. In fulfilling its mission, the basic lines of action for controlling gambling activity are as follows:

  • Monitoring, control and inspection of national-level gambling activities.
  • The authorisation of technical gambling systems, as well as the establishment of the technical and functional requirements for gambling and the technical systems used.
  • The crackdown on unauthorised illegal gambling, be it carried out within Spain or outside Spain and aimed at the Spanish market.
  • Working with the competent authorities to comply with legislation on the prevention of money laundering and the financing of terrorism, as well as working with the judicial police to prevent and control fraud and in defending the integrity of gambling activities.

 

Monitoring, control and inspection of national-level gambling activitiesReturn to top

The DGOJ, in its inspection function, is responsible for monitoring, auditing and controlling all aspects and administrative, economic, procedural, technical, computer, telematic and documentation standards relating to the carrying on of gambling activities. The monitoring and control of gambling are based on the following activities:

  • The constant monitoring of gambling activities.
  • Inspection actions

 

The constant monitoring of gambling activities Return to top

The monitoring of gambling activities is based mainly on the analysis of information on gambling transactions obtained from various sources:

  • Gambling data on the operator monitoring system (Internal control system - ICS) relating to user registration, betting and prizes.
  • Checks made by the operator to the gambler verification web services (General Register of Gaming Access Bans-RGIAJ and identity verification) offered by the DGOJ.
  • Technical, operational and financial information provided by operators to the DGOJ in the procedures to grant licences or those to authorise systems.
  • Reports for gambling site review actions.
  • Data relating to complaints and/or claims received by the DGOJ from users.

The integrity and quality of the data is fundamental to the maximum efficacy of the DGOJ's information system. For this reason, each year a specific data quality control plan is initiated to ensure the completeness and reliability of the information reported by the operators. The summary of the actions carried out is shown in the following table.

Summary of actions
 
Actions 2016 2017
Communication made to the operators 870 933
Incidents opened against operators 1,169 953
Incidents closed 728 570
Operators' queries answered 50 60

 

During 2017, the following exceptional circumstances arose in relation to data quality in the ICS:

  • The implementation of a new quality management procedure for incidents for the ICS which has been rolled out in 19 operators with the aim of enhancing communications between operator and the DGOJ.
  • The change of gambling platform and warehouse of two operators and implementing the warehouse of three new operators.
  • Defining a data model to standardise the reporting of gambling promotions.
  • Adapting the reporting data model for international liquidity.

The analysis and processing of information on gambling transactions allows the ongoing monitoring of compliance with certain requirements related to protecting gamblers that are considered especially critical such as the procedures put in place by operators to verify the identity of participants, access control mechanisms to prevent the participation of people who are banned such as minors and those on the register of banned gamblers, as well as the carrying on of a responsible gambling activity.

In 2017, new extensive controls were included aimed at monitoring the following matters:

  • The control of the subjective bans included in Article 6.2 c) of Law 13/2011, i.e., those in the register of persons linked to gambling operators.
  • The correct operation of the requirements to change gamblers' deposit limits.
  • The correct operation of spending limits and time playing slot machines.

The review of new operators’ gambling platforms complements the ongoing supervision. Each time an operator starts an activity or markets a new specific licence, an ad hoc check procedure is implemented for the operator's technical gambling system, based on a risk-oriented approach.

Checking procedure for new operators or new specific licences
 
Illegal gambling 2016 2017 Total
Reviews of General Licences 7 1 8
Reviews of Specific Licences 29 4 33

 

As a result of these supervision actions, the information requests and communications issued to the operators are as follows:

Monitoring incidents
 
Incidents 2017
User registration control (duplicate accounts, poorly identified, gambling
accounts without user registration)
8
Control of banned persons 26
Control of minors 21
Exceeding deposit limits 18
Exceeding spending limits in the slot machines session 20
Periods of increase in deposit limits 5
Review of the operation of the user registration in new operators
and the session limits in new slot machine games
5
Control of correct bingo operation 5

 

Inspection actions Return to top

The following complaints were received in relation to licensed operators:

Reason for complaint
 
Reason 2014 2015 2016 2017 Total
Locking of accounts and precautionary suspensions 7 13 4 22 46
Change of betting odds, cancellation of bet or non-payment of prizes 15 41 17 21 94
Individual prohibition 2 3 4 8 17
Bonuses and advertising 3 13 5 6 27
Deposit and bet limits 1 2 3 5 11
System manipulation       4 4
Information for the gambler 1 3 1 3 8
No gambling randomness   2 3 3 8
Means of payment     4   4
Redirect to the ".com"   1     1
Complaint against several operators 3 1     4
Other   3 1   4
Total 32 82 42 72 228

 

The complaints lodged since the regulated market was set up are detailed in the following table:

Complaints relating to legal gambling activity
 
Complaints 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Total
Complaints received 10 39 32 83 40 72 277
Discontinued 10 16 26 54 74 63 243
In prior investigation   23 29 58 24 33 33

 

Regarding the outcome of complaints received and the ongoing supervision processes of operators, the following table shows the detail from the start of the regulated market:

Verification procedures
 
Procedures 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Total
Verification proceedings initiated 7 33 9 21 7 11 88
Proceedings filed   10 2 8 4 2 26
Proposals to initiate penalty proceedings   17 13 7 5 2 44

 

The authorisation of technical gambling systems Return to top

Operators must use duly authorised gambling devices and software. The authorisation of technical gambling systems is based on technical system adequacy certification reports issued by laboratories specialised in the certification of gambling software functionality and by organisations specialising in computer security audit previously designated by the DGOJ.

Technical gambling systems are initially authorised within the framework of the procedure for granting general and specific licences.

Authorisation indicators
 
Indicators 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Total
No. of authorisation applications 271 9 10 94 12 14 410
No. of authorisations granted (per licence)   276 8 46 57 12 399
No. of authorisations refused (per licence)   4 2   1   7
No. of authorisations in progress (per licence) 271     48 2 2 325

 

From initial authorisation, technical gambling systems authorisation is continued through the prior authorisation of substantial changes to critical elements, quarterly reports on changes and audits performed every two years.

Total number of requests. Change management
 
Requests 2016 2017
New gambling 78 127
New gambling software supplier 6 27
Live roulette 3 12
Platform migration   10
Participation channels 10 9
Major version change 4 5
CPD 3 5
Payment methods   3
Other 13 7
Total 117 205

 

Substantial changes
 
  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Favourable resolution for the authorisation of substantial change management 42 44 35 107 195
Resolutions of refusals to authorise substantial change management 8 5 6 4 6

 

On the other hand, during  the first quarter of 2015, the content of the mandatory two-yearly audit framework for gambling operators was defined, which was reflected with the publication of a technical note on 1 April 2015. 

Queries related to technical systems and authorisation procedures
 
  2015 2016 2017 Total
No. of queries 132 57 80 212

 

The crackdown on illegal gamblingReturn to top

Following the enactment of the LRJ and the granting of licences to gambling operators in June 2012, the websites operated by entities which have not obtained a licence in Spain has to cease their activities in Spanish territory.

In order to detect potential instances of non-compliance with the implementation of the aforementioned ceasing of activities and to preserve the legal framework established, the DGOJ has developed various measures aimed at eradicating unlicensed online gambling activities from the Spanish market. These actions revolve around two major axes giving continuity to the strategy established in 2013:

  • Maintenance of a census of the gambling websites which allow access from devices connected via IP addresses assigned to the Spanish internet network (connections from within Spanish territory).
  • Verification proceedings prior to the proposal of the commencement of disciplinary proceedings against any websites which have been the subject of complaints, claims or simple mentions to the SGIJ, or through research on internet search engines, social networks or various websites.

 

Preparation of a census of websites which it is possible to access from Spain Return to top

One of the main measures taken in relation to unlicensed gambling activities has been the compilation of a census of websites that are accessible for gamblers connected from within Spanish territory with the aim of identifying all of the unauthorised gambling on offer to ascertain the extent of such offer and its market position. The above-mentioned census includes information on website operators, the nature of the gambling activities on offer and whether or not they are included within the scope of the Spanish Gambling Regulation Law (LRJ), the index which indicates their position in the online gambling market (Alexa index), the vehicular languages of the website (in particular the Spanish language) and whether or not gamblers residing in Spanish territory (irrespective of whether or not they identify themselves as being residents of Spain) are admitted. 

In addition, once a website has been registered, it is regularly monitored in order to verify its activity in Spain and, where appropriate, the initiation of a prior information file.

The compilation of the census is a very dynamic activity, to which additions and modifications are continually made housing an ever-changing list of websites that are not currently operating as a result of the inspection measures taken, which are detailed below, or due to commercial changes thereto.

Number of websites closed
 
Websites closed 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Total
Without a file being opened by the DGOJ 104 184 234 91 255 839
With a file being opened by the DGOJ 13 28 35 46 16 132
Total 117 212 269 137 271 961

 

Verification procedures prior to the proposal to commence disciplinary proceedings Return to top

When a complaint or claim is made in relation to a website by a user, or when whatsoever citizen or organisation interested in the legal, secure and responsible functioning of the online gambling market in Spain as well as when the illegal gambling websites census control activities reveal the activity being carried out by a particular unlicensed website in the Spanish gambling market, prior informative proceedings are initiated. Said proceedings consist of the following principal phases:

  • Checking, through the initiation of electronic evidence by the inspecting staff of the DGOJ, on the possibility of access from devices located within Spain to the gambling on offer of a certain unauthorised website. Said gambling on offer must conform to the definition established in art. 3.a) of the LRJ. This will show the identification of the gambling operator performing this activity, the market positioning of the website (Alexa Index), vehicular language, formalisation of a user record, possibility of making a deposit to participate in the gambling on offer and participation in any of the gambling offered on the site.
  • Issuance to the operator (normally cross-border) of a communication containing the facts established, information as to the possible legal consequences of carrying on online gambling activities in Spain without holding the relevant licence or without having applied for one, where this gambling activity is unlicensed, of disablement from access to the gambling on offer on the website operated from Spain.
  • Opening of a new evidence record for the purpose of verifying the possible implementation by the operator of the disablement of access from Spain requested by the DGOJ.
  • Proposal to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the website operator, taking into account the background facts established during the prior information proceedings and the behaviour of the operator after receiving the request for disablement of access from Spain. It should be noted that within one file there may be more than one website under inspection.

The prior information proceedings initiated since the regulated market was set up are detailed in the following table:

Illegal gambling proceedings
 
Illegal gambling 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Total
Proceedings initiated 17 50 49 30 24 11 181
Proposals to initiate penalty proceedings 17 16 20 20 13 16 102
Agreements to file proceedings   4 13 3 6 3 29

The 16 proposals to initiate penalty proceedings have included a total of 17 illegal gambling web portals.

Although it is very difficult to quantify the volume of illegal gambling, since we are dealing with an online market which by its very nature is a very broad and dynamic environment, from the outset the DGOJ has done continuous inspection work focused initially on websites (using the Alexa index as a reference) and those which have been the subject of complaint by users, operators or gambling associations, and the results obtained show that the fight against illegal gambling is achieving a positive response, with a high degree of effectiveness among European operators, although less so with those located in other parts of the world.

Inspection is an activity which continues and develops over time and is being complemented by the blocking of websites by internet service providers.

In addition, in the area of supporting the disciplinary activity, the following actions have been carried out:

Actions to support the disciplinary activity
 
Sanctioning activity 2015 2016 2017 Total
Verification certificates of interruption of the marketing of the gambling
activity by the operator
35 10 8 53
Verification reports on blocking access to the web portals
in the providers of the information services
2 3 2 7

 

The monitoring and control of unauthorised marketing of lottery games.Return to top

The monitoring and control activity of lottery games includes the investigation and prosecution of marketing activities or participation in the marketing of reserved lottery games in Spain without the authorisation of the designated operator (SELAE or ONCE) and organising or operating gambling activities in breach of the reservation principle established in Article 4 of the LRJ.

Regarding the marketing of unauthorised lotteries, the number of complaints and proceedings is shown in the following table:

Marketing of unauthorised lottery games
 
Unauthorised lotteries 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Total
Complaints received 12 31 31 43 16 20 153
Proceedings initiated 9 17 13 7 2 1 49
Proposals to initiate penalty proceedings   1 7 1     9

 

Regarding the organisation of lottery games in breach of the reservation principle, this activity is shown in the following table:

Carrying out of gambling activities in breach of the reservation principle
 
Carrying out of activities 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Total
Complaints received 8 22 51 44 15 6 146
Proceedings initiated 1   4 4 2 1 12
Proposals to initiate penalty proceedings   1   1   3 5

 

Collaboration with the competent authorities to prevent and control fraud and to defend the integrity of gambling activities. Return to top

In April 2017, the DGOJ created the Betting Market Global Investigation Service (Servicio de Investigación Global del Mercado de Apuestas - SIGMA), to collaborate on the prevention and control of fraud and, in particular, the fight against match-fixing, protecting integrity of sports and sports ethics and integrity in betting markets. SIGMA’s functions are as follows:

  • To support State Security Forces and Bodies (Fuerzas y Cuerpos de Seguridad del Estado - FCSE) in investigations related to match-fixing, sports betting and fraud in gambling.
  • To manage the exchange of warning information related to irregular sports betting or suspicions with gambling operators.
  • To coordinate with sports organisations on the exchange of information on sporting events.
  • To coordinate the exchange of information on sportspeople and of that linked to the sport with sporting organisations.
  • To pursue and punish the behaviour of sportspeople and others linked to the sport who breach the individual prohibition under Article 6.2, sections d), e) and f) of the LRJ.
  • To analyse information on sports betting to detect suspicious or irregular bets.

 

SIGMA actions
 
Actions  2016 2017 Total
Requirement of the FCSE 4 18 22
Requests for supplementary information of the FCSE 2 121 49
Alerts received about match fixing 1 45 46
Ex officio actions   7 7
Total 7 191 198

Note: Although SIGMA was created as a DGOJ unit in 2017, activities in previous years already carried out were later allocated within the aforementioned unit.

The following table shows the number of alerts by sport:

Alerts by sport
 
Sport Number
Football 22
Tennis 16
Badminton 3
Other 5

 

The DGOJ also works with the AEAT (Spanish Tax Agency) exchanging data annually in compliance with the agreement signed in 2014.

In 2017, 40 procedures were carried out by the AEAT.