Spanish Ministry Sets Player Protection as Key Priority for 2021

Spain’s Ministry for Consumer Affairs is continuing its efforts to review and tighten gambling laws in 2021, following significant changes made last year.

Advertising Restrictions and Sponsorship Ban Caused Controversy

Some of the steps in this direction is enforcing the advertising restrictions adopted last year, as well as the changes to regulatory fees for licensees.

Advertising restrictions were first announced in January last year and were gradually introduced throughout the year to be finally adopted in November via a new Royal Decree. Spain’s Council of Ministers approved imposing further limits to gambling advertisements with the aim of protecting vulnerable groups from gambling-related harm.

Under the new law, advertising on TV, radio and even YouTube videos is permitted only between 1 am to 5 am. Furthermore, gambling sponsorship is banned.

The latest figures from Spain’s Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) show a substantial increase of marketing spending by online gambling operators in 2020. Advertising tripled quarter-on-quarter to €51.8 million in 3Q2020, while bonus offers surged 560% to €82.4 million. Affiliate marketing increased 40.6% to €9.4 million and sponsorship spending doubled to €6.5 million.

However, the above figures are about to change drastically, when the existing marketing contracts end in spring and the new regulations prevent their extension.

The advertising ban faced backlash by industry association Jdigital, which argued that the measures would have a negative effect on the sector and would prompt illegal gambling.

The Ministry Plans to Create a Centralized Self-Exclusion Register

The Ministry for Consumer Affairs is also planning to unify the country’s numerous self-exclusion registers available across autonomous communities and the national register administered by the state’s gambling regulator.

Under the current system, gamblers are prohibited from playing at a land-based venue only in the province where their ban has been issued, but they are still permitted access to venues in other provinces.

The actions of the government will also see new social responsibility controls expanded to include certain video games.

Another key priority is promoting consistent regulations for land-based gambling, which would be submitted to the nation’s Gaming Policy Council with a consensus proposal.

A survey carried out by the Spanish Ministry of Health shows that 670,000 citizens between 15 and 64 years of age are either problem gamblers or are at risk of developing such a problem.

In-person gambling was most common, with 63.6% of the population under 64 years old playing this way in 2019, an increase from 59.5% compared to 2017-18 data.

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