April 11, 2024 4 min read


Spain’s Supreme Court Partially Annuls Ban on Gambling Ads

Spain’s Supreme Court has decided to reverse or annul several Royal Decree restrictions on gambling ads from three and a half years ago

The Supreme Court in Spain has overturned a number of restrictions on gambling advertising that were implemented by the country via Royal Decree 958 in 2020

The decision to annul or reverse some of the restrictions written in the decree followed the appeal formulated by Jdigital, the industry‘s online gambling trade association, and the Information Media Association.

The Constitutional Basis Was Questioned 

The two associations questioned the constitutional basis for the Royal Decree, arguing that the decision to impose the respective restrictions using a ministerial decree instead of federal legislation did not comply with the terms of the constitution.

The Supreme Court agreed with the association’s argument, ruling that prohibitions and limits on a business’ freedom to use advertisements should have “sufficient legal coverage.” In other words, the reversal was decided since there was “no legal coverage” to establish the decree’s limitations as they would affect “the very essence of commercial advertising, intended to offer and promote the product or service to attract new customers.”

What Spanish Operators Can Expect

The Supreme Court has decided to annul Article 13, sections 1 and 3, both connected to welcome offers aimed at new players. 

In other words, domestic operators are now allowed to target advertising to players who have opened an account in the past 30 days with ads for online games and promotions. 

They will also be allowed to advertise on social media and feature famous people, either prominent real celebrities or fictional characters in their marketing campaigns.  

Regarding the use of celebrities in marketing, the Supreme Court ruled that the measure “lacks legal coverage” and incurs an “excess.”

Similar arguments were used behind by the court when it decided to repeal the ban on advertising on video streaming platforms

Spanish operators are also now able to advertise in places that are designated for the sale of lottery games and which are currently accessible to the public. 

The court’s reason for the reversal is that “there is no legal coverage” to establish the limitations outlined in the decree as they would affect “the very essence of commercial advertising, intended to offer and promote the product or service to attract new customers.”

Certain restrictions will remain valid, including radio and television bans between certain hours as well as a prohibition on sports sponsorship.

Similarly, the court decided to repeal the ban on social media ads on video streaming platforms

The Changes, “Very Positive News”

Once the Supreme Court’s ruling was announced, Jdigital called the changes “very positive news for the association and for the online gaming sector.” While the trade body remained positive regarding the ruling and explained it proved the restrictions in the decree were “disproportionate” and lacking “sufficient legal protection measures,” concerns still exist regarding the limitations in scope. 

Plus, Jdigital has also voiced concerns regarding the fact that the Advertising Code of Conduct continues to be in place.

The respective system, which is self-regulated, puts limits on commercial advertising in the gambling industry while capping welcome bonuses to up to €200 and preventing celebrities under the age of 25 from showing up in advertisements. 

While welcoming the changes in the industry, Jdigital continues to be concerned regarding the 1 am-5 am “horrario de madrugada” window inspired by COVID-19, which banned TV, radio, and online ads during the respective timeframe.  

The trade body will keep working on a framework that would reinforce the sector’s commitment to offering enhanced protection to Spanish players and the most vulnerable categories of people in society. 

Last month, the country revamped its gambling sector by introducing strict rules and restrictions regarding the protection of consumers against gambling harm.

After finishing her master's in publishing and writing, Melanie began her career as an online editor for a large gaming blog and has now transitioned over towards the iGaming industry. She helps to ensure that our news pieces are written to the highest standard possible under the guidance of senior management.

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