Spain introduced tough gambling ad restrictions in November last year. The restrictions plan to ban gambling sponsorships once the football season ends. Such a ban may bring difficulties for many Spanish football clubs who have already felt the economic impact of the pandemic last year.
Spain’s Tough Rules on Gambling Advertising Affect the Industry
Last year in November, Spain’s Council of Ministers approved a new Royal Decree on gambling advertising. The decree implemented new strict rules on gambling advertising. Under the new rules, gambling advertising on TV and radio is restricted between the hours of 1 am to 5 am. Furthermore, the new decree banned gambling sponsorships.
The Spanish government justified the implementation of the new rules aiming to reduce the exposure of the younger population to gambling. However, the new gambling ad restrictions do not apply to the state lotteries ONCE and SELAE.
Besides gambling ads, the new rules restrict gambling operators from offering a one-time welcome bonus of up to €100. The only exception is allowed for individual customers with verified accounts, who may receive exclusive offers.
Tough Ad Restrictions to Affect Spanish Football Clubs
Undoubtedly, football is going to be affected by the new regulations. The new restrictions allow the existing partnerships to remain in effect until the end of the current football season. However, banning sponsorships will inevitably impact all football clubs. Furthermore, the new regulations also prohibit current or former athletes from participating in gambling ads.
Speaking with Reuters, Javier Tebas, La Liga president, stressed that the new measures will bring significant harm to Spanish football. According to him, the new measures will result in “€90 million of harm” for football. Furthermore, Tebas deemed the measure as “contradictory” mainly because gambling in Spain is legal.
Another point that Tebas raised was that “clubs will have to scrape around” during this very difficult time. Furthermore, he added that La Liga has asked the Spanish government to consider a different policy. According to him, the current policy cuts the clubs’ ability to generate revenue. This results in reducing the competitiveness of Spanish football clubs with the rest of Europe.
Besides the gambling ad ban which will affect football at the end of the season, the COVID-19 pandemic also impacted the sport in Spain. Last year, COVID-related restrictions led to losses of millions of euros from ticket sales.
Problem Gambling – All Time Low in Spain
Although Spain ramped up gambling ad restrictions, problem gambling does not seem to represent a public health issue in the country. Earlier this month, the Spanish gambling regulator, the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) revealed that problem gambling is not a public health problem. Furthermore, the regulator admitted that the “vast majority of people who gamble” do this as a leisure activity. This, according to DGOJ, does not represent a health problem for those individuals.
Besides, Spain offers a gambling self-exclusion program, which participants last year grew by 12%. Data revealed last month by the country’s self-exclusion register confirms that more people have joined the program in 2020. The number of self-excluded individuals reached 56,329 last year. This is 6,042 people more when compared to the result from 2019. With that in mind, a question remains whether the Spanish government would reconsider easing the restrictions for football clubs or proceed with its current plan.