Spain to Consider Gambling Addiction a Mental Illness

Spain will treat gambling addicts as people who suffer from mental illness and offer a nationalized treatment scheme and identification system.

Responsible Gambling Updated in Spain

Spain will focus on updating its responsible gambling policies, the country’s regulator, the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ), revealed today, December 17. The update will classify gambling addiction as a mental disorder and be subject to the same treatment standards as other similar illnesses.

The decision has already been voted by the Responsible Gaming Advisory Council (CAJR) with measures passing through and now awaiting official launch. In the meantime, the regulator has been trying to bolster responsible gambling practices across Spain, with the country’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) continuing to grow and advertisement restrictions discussed.

DGOJ Commits to Safer Gambling Practices

Spain’s decision to reclassify gambling addiction as a mental issue allows the country to leverage more funds towards treating it. The regulator and the Advisory Council are now working on creating a list of criteria that can help medical experts identify problem gambling behavior and offer treatment.

The DGOJ hopes that through addressing problem gambling, authorities would be able to better gauge what the real social and economical impact on Spain is. Furthermore, the data can be used to tax the industry properly as well as create pre-emptive measures that nip such issues in the bud.

Spain also plans on creating a registration service where all problematic gamblers would be entered so that they can be excluded from gambling activities.

The regulator already requests from licensed companies to run mandatory age verification and identity checks to ensure the safety of individuals as well as bolster anti money-laundering efforts and prevent identity theft.

Meanwhile, the exclusion system will immediately notify businesses if they are receiving a request to play from an individual who has limited his or her access to gambling. The DGOJ will also seek to reinforce the current identity verification process.

Earlier this year, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) passed measures requesting gambling businesses to carry out verification checks within 72 hours. Furthermore, no demo versions of casino games are available in the UK any more, unless an individual has successfully verified his or her identity.

The UKGC has also been able to negotiate better overall safety mechanisms adopted by industry leaders, and intended to protect the country’s growing number of children who gamble. Speaking on the occasion of the new measures, UKGC Chief Executive Neil McArthur said:

‘These changes will protect children and the vulnerable from gambling-related harm, and reduce the risk of crime linked to gambling.’

Restricting Gambling Exposure

In May 2019, Spain’s ombudsman Francisco Fernandez Marugan called for tougher regulatory measures against gambling regulations. The country may effectively introduce a blanket ban on all gambling advertisement, following in the footsteps of Italy.

Calls for tougher stance on gambling began after a 15-year-old won $220,000 from the national lottery, SELAE raising questions as to how the child had been able to participate when the legal gambling age in Spain to date is 18.

Nevertheless, reclassifying gambling as a mental illness is a first step in the right direction for the country.

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