FACUA Urges Spanish Government to Ban Credit Cards for Gambling

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A consumer rights group, FACUA-Consumidores en Acción, has petitioned the Spanish Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzon to push for a credit cards gambling ban and help protect vulnerable groups in society from financial harm.

FACUA Petitions Government to Ban Credit Card Gambling

After announcing stricter measures for the online gambling industry, Spain is considering a credit card gambling ban. In the very least, the FACUA-Consumidores en Acción, a consumer rights body, has petitioned Alberto Garzon, Minister of Consumer Affairs, to consider the ban, following closely on a similar measure announced in the United Kingdom earlier this week.

The group argued that the latest measures outlined by the ruling Podemos’ coalition on January 2, 2020 were considerable improvements on current gambling laws, but there needed to be further efforts to guarantee the safety of consumers in Spain.

These calls come after a rapid growth of the gambling sector with all activities picking up. The national regulator, Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ), was reporting steady increases throughout the last few years.

In the third quarter of 2019, online gambling operators generated nearly $200 million, leading to a 5.4% increase year-over-year (YOY). Amid this spike in gambling activity, scrutiny of the sector has also been increasing.

Stop Gamblers from Going into Debt, FACUA Says

One of the main arguments FACUA has made is akin to what the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has used in its own justification of introducing a credit cards gambling ban, i.e. stop people from spending money they don’t have, and going into debt.

UKGC chief executive Neil McArthur cautioned that allowing players to play on borrowed money could inflict serious financial harm.

In an official statement, the FACUA argued that the new measure would help regulators “fight against gambling,” and the group further equated the activity to a “scourge,” that had targeted vulnerable groups, including youths, adolescents and even rehabilitated players.

FACUA has also acknowledged the progress made by the UKGC commending the efforts to keep the gambling industry free of harming people.

Tighter Gambling Regulations in Spain

Amid the calls for credit cards ban, the Spanish government has already set out a six-point plan designed to improve consumer protection. Some of the measures include revisiting the working hours of gambling and betting shops as well as their proximity to public facilities, such as schools.

Changes in marketing policies are also coming, with Spanish authorities now considering all ads to be targeted at non-EU audiences rather than promoting to locals.

However, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has cautioned that restricting advertisement might simply prompt players to simply seek offshore alternatives.

Another country to have taken a serious aim at advertisement is Italy. Italy’s gambling market continues to grow, both in terms of iGaming revenue and sports handle.

Meanwhile, the Five-Star coalition, the country’s populist government, is continuing to clamp down on gambling, including a total blackout ban of all gambling-related advertisement from public spaces – physical and online.

Image credit: FACUA.org

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