Spain Determined to Lead the Way in Fighting Gambling Harm

Spain continues to spearhead efforts to curb the gambling impact on the most vulnerable group in the society. Speaking to the Spanish Parliament, Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzon outlined that the Council of Ministers would ratify within weeks the proposed earlier gambling advertising controls.

Crackdown on Gambling Advertising

Back in February, Alberto Garzon revealed governmental plans to crackdown on advertising by gambling companies and casinos, in an attempt to address growing addiction in the country. Over the past decade, gambling industry in Spain has flourished as online gambling, sports betting and casinos surpassed state-owned lottery and pubs’ and restaurants’ slot machines, and the enforcement of the Royal Decree on Advertising sought to protect youth and gambling addicts.

“The regulation has to be similar to tobacco. We are not regulating the textile sector here, but a sector that has an impact on public health.”

Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzon

But the minister did not stop here and in July continued to further restrict gambling companies from advertising. As part of the tightening on marketing opportunities for the gambling industry, the new set of measures included a ban on gambling advertising for events which take place before 8pm and the use of “name brand or trade name of a betting operator to identify a sports facility or entertainment facility”.

Sponsorship Deals Affected

Sponsorship deals with gambling operators were banned by the new controls and gambling operators were prohibited from having their brand appear on sports team shirts, with the government even mulling on suspending existing sports betting deals, as the new controls would be enforced at the beginning of October and existing deals would be given a short transition period.

At the beginning of the new season in La Liga, the Minister of Public Affairs could not believe that clubs continued to renew their shirt sponsorship deals, knowing of the upcoming new federal code on advertising. Speaking to sports broadcaster Onda Madrid, Alberto Garzon pointed the finger at their recklessness.

“The law is the law. Clubs have been reckless renewing their sponsorships. From October no new contract can be signed and there will be a short period in which to extinguish their existing ones.”

Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzon

Despite the new set of controls being heavily criticized by the operators’ association JDigital, Garzon defended the measures as necessary to tackle a sector with a particularly negative impact on Spain’s most vulnerable people. According to industry data, Garzon noted, 40% of new players were under 26, a worrying fact for the Minister

“The sector is growing on the backs of very vulnerable groups and advertising is one of the ways in which this sector has grown and by which this type of activity is normalized, which can have disastrous consequences.”

Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzon

The Minister further noted that new measures are to be announced in the coming months as the problem of gambling is not solved by gambling advertising prohibition alone.

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