New laws for Spanish gambling advertisers have been on the table for a few months now, and just this week, online newspaper 20 Minutos reported that changes would be coming sooner rather than later.
The news site cited department sources, confirming that top officials in the new coalition government are drafting a bill that will limit TV and radio advertising to a four-hour slot per day—starting at 1 am.
The country’s new Minister of Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzón, has been meeting with key stakeholders in the issue for the past month, with more discussions planned over the coming weeks. People he is talking to include representatives from local gambling operators, consumer groups, problem gambling charities, and various media outlets.
A press release from Spain’s largest gaming industry group, CeJuego, said the initial talks looked set to negotiate a new position “through a calm dialogue with the sector based on rigorous studies.”
Internet ads were also reported to be part of the negotiations, although no further details were released on that aspect. It’s likely that any new information won’t be available until the full draft is published in the next few weeks.
Other measures discussed include a hard cap on the number of gambling ads in any one-hour period and the limiting of sports betting ads to appropriate times—such as during La Liga football matches.
Spanish market providers have already all signed up for a voluntary code of conduct on advertising, which started on the 15th of last month.
The code introduced similar measures to markets like the UK, such as mandatory responsible gambling messages as part of all ads and restricting famous sports stars and celebrities from appearing to participate in actual gambling in adverts.
This move came after Spain’s previous government had threatened a massive overhaul of gambling advertisement laws.
However, the country’s dramatic general election saw a new coalition government installed between the PSOE party and Unios Podemos, and many plans were reconsidered.
It’s a Lottery
One of the key elements that have changed is lawmakers’ position on the state-run local lottery providers—SELAE and ONCE.
Previously, it was reported that both companies would likely be exempt from changes to any advertising regulations. However, these new sources seem to confirm that they would be subject to the same restrictions as other operators.
The state lotteries faced controversy early last year when a 15-year old teenager won a €200,000 ($219,000) jackpot, even though he should never have been allowed to purchase a ticket.
Such regrettable incidents are always going to attract negative media attention.
However, mostly anti-gambling party Unios Podemos was also involved in its own gaming scandal last year. In November 2019, a youth member of their party was interviewed on TV as a destitute gambling addict, only to later be outed by investigative journalists as a property investor, reggaeton artist, and YouTuber who was rich enough to take 3-week holidays to Singapore and Hong Kong.
Despite some underhand tactics from the left, however, gambling regulation is a popular policy among voters, and the chief of gaming industry group JDigital remained upbeat about the potential for new regulation.
Any new deal should seek to protect the most vulnerable consumers while allowing gambling to continue to provide its economic benefits to the country. Chairman Mike Lopez said in a statement he was hopeful that the new laws would amount to “fair, equitable, and proportionate regulation of the reality of gaming in Spain.”
More regulation in other EU countries awaits
The news of more regulation in the Spanish gambling market comes to no surprise. In just the last year, we’ve reported on multiple countries regulating online gambling, or tightening their old regulations. For example, we have reported on updates on the current gambling laws in the United Kingdom where credit cards are no longer allowed on casinos. We’ve also reported on the Netherlands regulatory status with high fines to offshore gambling companies as well as the current regulatory wave in Germany.