Spain’s consumer protection minister Alberto Garzon has said that the government will most likely seek to limit 80% of all online advertisement.
Spanish Online Gambling Advertisement Comes Under Scrutiny
Spain is once again discussing gambling and specifically gambling advertisement after Unidos Podemos, the country’s left-wing party, brought up the issue that the industry is harming youths and leading to an uptick in gambling addiction.
Together with the Socialist Party, Unidas Podemos have the legal majority to target and change gambling advertisement rules if they deem it necessary. This comes at a time when gambling, including online sports betting and iGaming, are flourishing across the country, marking an all-time high in terms of revenue.
Video terminals and lottery games have been giving rapid ground to the new-found appetite of Spaniards for gambling products.
Spain’s consumer protection minister Alberto Garzon raised the issue on Friday, February 21, arguing that new regulation ought to be sought to curb the rising numbers of addiction across the country. According to Garzon, the regulation should be similar to how tobacco is taxed.
More importantly, the minister noted, the country will be trying to regulate a sector that has a direct impact on citizens’ health. Spain is also considering to introduce a ban on specific advertisement policies designed to incentivize people into placing a wager, such as free bets to new customers.
Sweden, one of the most heavily regulated and fairest markets in the world, already has these measures in place. Garzon has also cited the fact that the amount staked online has grown three-fold since 2014 to $19.2 billion in 2018, coinciding with the FIFA World Cup.
According to Reuters, Spaniards are losing some $10.85 billion to gambling activities, citing data from the Spanish gambling lobby.
How Would a Gambling Crackdown Affect Business?
Cracking down on advertisement practices might have a positive effect for the levels of addiction, but it must not come at the cost of neutering a flourishing business. Italy has already done so under the Five-Star Movement government, a far-right party that promised to remove gambling from public spaces as part of its electoral campaign.
In the case of Italy, partnerships between sports organizations and betting companies have been less frequent due to the “Dignity Decree” passed in 2018. Many of Spain’s LaLiga soccer clubs have partnerships with sports betting partners.
This includes big names as Real Madrid and Barcelona. Yet, these partnerships have not gone unnoticed and they have been heavily criticized. The government is also planning to ban teams from selling children merchandise carrying the logos of betting brands.
According to Garzon, the country will aim to ban at least 80% of all online advertisements. Meanwhile, the state-operated SELA and ONCE lotteries will have to be submitted to the same regulations as private operators.
The only difference is they will have more leeway in choosing when to broadcast advertisements. Private business has protested against the double-standards with some arguing that the lotteries have already been known to sell tickets to youths, even though not on purpose.