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Betting Shops to Open in SpainPublished July 29, 2008 by OCR Editor
Licenses granted to three companies to open betting shops; 75 are expected to open in total, beginning in September.
The first betting shops in Spain's Basque Country look set to open in September, to coincide with the beginning of the European football season. The openings were originally supposed to take place in July. In spite of the slight delay, the plan to open betting shops seems to carry on.
In 2007 the Basque Government, which governs an autonomous community encompassing three provinces in Spain's north - Alava, Vizcaya and Guipuzcoa - granted licenses to three companies to open the betting shops.
Two local Basque companies - Ekasa and Kirol Jokoa - were handed licenses, as was Garaipen Victoria Apostak SL, a joint venture of British bookmaker William Hill and Spanish group Codere SA.
The three companies were each handed licenses for 25 betting shops; twenty-nine are expected to be open by the end of the year, with four in region's largest city - Bilbao.
The move follows recent openings of betting shops in other parts of Spain, with the capital Madrid handing out 70 licenses for betting shops alone. The first was opened by the company Victoria, also a joint venture of William Hill and Codere SA.
Gambling has become increasingly popular in Spain, with an estimated 670 euros per person spent on the pursuit annually, and analysts tipping the betting market to grow to 39 billion euros in 2010.
Yet before the liberalization of betting laws by the Madrid and Basque regional governments in February, Spaniards could only gamble online. Now, with betting shops opening in these two regions and potentially in the rest of the country in the near future, Spanish punters can enjoy the best of both worlds.