LONDON (Reuters) - Online gambling company Sportingbet said it expected to get a license to operate in Spain next month after paying 17.2 million euros ($22 million) to settle a tax bill.
European companies are scrambling to clear back taxes demanded by the cash-strapped Spanish government that in effect raise the cost of market entry ahead of the issue of new licenses.
Bwin.party digital, the world's largest listed online gaming company, said on Monday it would pay 33 million euros to settle its bill. Sportingbet had said at the same time it was in talks but had not put a price on its liability, putting pressure on its shares.
Sportingbet said it had raised 15 million pounds through the sale of convertible bonds to fund the settlement.
"Sportingbet expects the payment to qualify the Company for the Spanish eGaming licensing round which is expected to be issued on 1 June 2012," it said in a statement.
The retrospective taxes cover the period from January 2009 to May 2011 when online operators were working in a market without a clear legal framework.
Sportingbet said it would apply to a Madrid court to have an injunction on its Spanish-facing business lifted once it had obtained a license.
Spanish casino group Codere won the injunction in March after taking legal action against a number of companies operating online in Spain.
(Reporting by Keith Weir; Editing by Will Waterman)