Spain Warns Casinos and Sportsbooks Not to Reopen Without Authorization

With Spain preparing to return back to normal, the government has cautioned casinos and sports betting venues not to reopen. All properties need to wait for an official go-ahead.

Spain’s Gambling Regulator Warns Gambling Venues Not to Reopen

Spain’s gambling regulator continues to keep a close eye on the country’s gambling industry. Even though the government began easing up measures in May, the Dirección General de Ordenación de Juego (DGOJ) has cautioned gambling outlets not to reopen.

The government issued the order on May 16 to bring some operations back online. However, it has specifically excluded gaming concessions located within commercial parks or shopping malls. The measure includes licensed casinos as well as betting shops and arcades.

This is the latest measure to affect Spain’s expanding gambling industry after SELAE, the state-owned lottery, suspended all ticket sales back in March. Later, in April, the government issued a new set of restrictive measures. The measures targeted online gambling ads in a bid to avoid seeing an increase in the numbers of problem gamblers over the period.

Article 37 of Royal Decree 11/2020 was published on March 31 and it came into effect on April 1 limiting advertisement, and dealing another blow to the gaming industry at the time.

New Appointment at the Helm of DGOJ and Return of LaLiga

The DGOJ and the government have seen eye-to-eye on most issues concerning consumers. Therefore, the appointment of Mikel Arana, a former politician, didn’t surprise earlier in May when he stepped in as director-general. However, rumors swirled. The little-known Arana replaced the outgoing incumbent, Juan Espinosa who stepped down after three years on the job.

The new appointment may have been the doing of Spain’s Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzon, who has been a vocal opponent of gambling, insisting that more must be done to protect consumers. In February, Garzon called for a broader crackdown on gambling advertising, comparing the industry to tobacco.

This comes at a particularly important moment for Spain, as the country prepares to restart soccer. Soccer clubs in LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank are back training, preparing to play in the renewed LaLiga season in June. Meanwhile, betting between 2014 and 2018 has tripled in Spain, with bettors placing an estimated $19.2 billion in wagers.

Late last week, LaLiga received formal permission by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to return on June 8. The league will observe all health and sanitization safety measures. In April, Rightlander, a compliance gaming company, came to assist Spanish authorities and help with regulating breaches of advertisement gambling restrictions introduced during the lockdown.

At the same time, the DGOJ reported a strong 2019 for online gambling in Spain. Gross gaming revenue (GGR) increasing 7.1% year-over-year or €748.5 million.

Spain’s gaming and sports betting industry continues to grow. Its tax revenue may be important for Spain’s post-COVID-19 recovery.

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