By Rosalba O'Brien
LONDON (Reuters) - Online gaming firm 888 expects to pay a back-tax bill for its Spanish operations of less than $10 million, as Spain prepares to award its first online betting licenses in June, a source close to the company said.
Helped by the leverage of the new licenses, cash-strapped Spain is demanding retrospective taxes from internet gambling companies operating between January 2009 and May 2011.
888, which has about 6 percent of its operations in Spain, expects to announce soon that it will pay a tax settlement of less than $10 million, the source said on Thursday.
This week, rival Bwin.party digital said it would pay about $42 million to settle its back-tax bill, while Sportingbet said it had paid $22 million, and Betfair said it would pay not more than 10 million euros ($12.6 million).
Brokers had estimated 888's exposure at less than $20 million.
(Editing by Will Waterman)