EGBA: Spanish Gambling Ads Restrictions Represent State Aid

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) released a statement on its website regarding the incoming advertising restrictions for gambling operators in Spain. EGBA issued a strong warning to Spanish authorities that the measures are discriminatory and in conflict with EU state aid rules as state-run lotteries are exempt from them.

Exemption for Lotteries

Just ahead of the announcement for the new restrictions on gambling advertising in Spain on Thursday, EGBA reminded authorities that state lotteries, ONCE and SELAE, account for at least one-third of the gambling advertising in the country, yet remain outside of the scope of the new measures.

“We urge the Spanish government to reconsider its advertising restrictions because there is a lack of data to support the measures and the granting of advertising privileges to state-run companies over private ones could potentially be in conflict with EU state aid rules.”

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA

Under the proposed new measures, gambling operators will be able to advertise only at night between 1am and 5am, on top of the blanket ban on sponsorship from the sector related to sports shirts, jerseys and kits, as well as inside the stadiums.

The exemption granted to state-run lottery operators from the advertising restrictions is a move EGBA considers as discriminatory towards private companies and in conflict with EU rules regarding state aid, EGBA explained in the statement.

“The restrictions clearly discriminate against private companies and favour the economic interests of the state-run lotteries, who are by far the country’s leading advertisers in the gambling sector.”

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA

Protecting Consumers

The Spanish government’s justification for the implementation of a near-total ban on gambling advertising is in contradiction of the finding of a recent study by the University of Mardrid, EGBA noted further in its release. According to the research findings, the country ranks among the lowest in the world in terms of rate of problem gambling, 0.3%.

Comparing the number of people who remembered having seen or heard a gambling ad, gambling advertising ranks 15th among all sectors, the European industry body highlighted, stressing on the lack of evidence to support the implementation of the strict measures.

“And while EGBA fully supports responsible advertising, the scope and type of restrictions proposed are not justified by the evidence available, including the country’s relatively low problem gambling rate and the significantly lower public awareness towards gambling advertising compared to other major advertising sectors.”

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA

The gaming association concluded by outlining its commitment to protect people from gambling harm and promote responsible advertising for the industry, working hand in hand with the authorities, evidenced by the recently published guidelines for online operators to promote safer gambling and embrace a code of conduct in terms of advertising, an initiative endorsed and supported by the Spanish online gambling association.

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