If you thought that the UK had the most stringent rules when it comes to online gaming you might want to revise your opinion. Because Spain has its very own set of regulations that (indirectly) make certain forms of gambling decidedly difficult.
Take bingo for example – a fairly innocuous game of chance truth-be-told. Indeed, there aren’t too many problem gamblers made destitute by two fat ladies if you take our meaning. Perhaps there are exceptions…
Nevertheless, in 2012, the Spanish Government introduced rules that legalised online gambling with the proviso that any site operating inside Spain should have the proper licence. Sadly, the legislation also made it illegal for ex-pat Brits to play online bingo at UK-based websites.
So illegal in fact that Spanish police have taken to enforcing the bingo embargo with the kind of rigour traditionally reserved for 1920s bootleggers. There have been undercover operations, raids and even arrests as authorities move to protect Spain from this existential threat – yes really.
In 2018, a pub in Benidorm was raided by police who promptly seized all of the prize money as well as two bingo machines, four microphones and a couple thousand bingo cards. The befuddled owners were summarily informed that they were to be reported for a ‘very serious infringement’.
A variety of establishments in the bingo-playing badlands of Andalucia also fell-foul of the new terror back in 2017.
At one den of iniquity (a hotel bar in Coto de Bornos) Spanish police uncovered startling evidence of bingo-playing activities including bingo cards not to mention a collection of wines, food and gifts.
It is thought the latter exhibits were to be used as part of an elaborate scheme in which participants were to be rewarded for matching numbers read out by a hitherto unidentified caller.
Although the above examples relate to offline bingo, Spanish law also extends to online bingo games too. This is why many operators have started circling the wagons.
Teasing aside, the online bingo ban is something of a big deal for Spain’s extensive expat population. And there’s not really any kind of above-board solution at present. Currently, only Spanish citizens are allowed to play online bingo at licencesed sites with .es domains. Although further developments are likely in the near future due to the impact of Brexit, ex-pat bingo players will find it difficult if not impossible to access UK-based bingo sites from Spain.
Solutions We Don’t Recommend
The only way to access UK online bingo platforms is to use a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs work by routing web-based connections through a private server instead of your internet service provider.
These servers are located throughout the world which of course means that you can access region-restricted websites with ease. Needless to say, this is not something we recommend given that it contravenes Spanish law.
But it’s certainly an option. The other option is to move back to the UK, a prospect that most expatriates probably don’t want to entertain any time soon.