Spain Could be Next to Follow Italy’s Gambling Advert Ban

Spain has indicated that it may be the next country to follow Italy’s stringent gambling gauntlet when it comes to advertising restrictions.

This autumn is critical for the government to agree on budget deals for the next parliament, and with calls for a snap general election the spotlight is on keeping power, going with whatever proposals appear popular.

The 2019 budget

According to sources in the Spanish media, the upcoming 2019 budget is thought to include heavy restrictions when it comes to gambling advertising. At the heart of these proposals is the PSOE minority government led by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Together with the socialist Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias, the two have come up with a budget proposal deal that has been called the “socially progressive budget”. The pair hope that it will be enough to keep the minority government in power if the opposition calls for a snap general election.

Inside the budget is to be expected a limit on advertising by so-called “predatory industries”, labeled as betting, gambling, credit lending and pay-day loan companies. Podemos has been calling for this since 2015, so it is not wholly unexpected.

But in the light of Italy’s recent stringent advertising rules, operators will be asking if they now have new-found support.

There is also talk of possible restrictions on the market, although these have yet to be expanded upon. It has been suggested by Spanish media that celebrity endorsements could be heavily cut back, and adverts at premium times would be limited.

Leading Spanish newspaper El Pais reports that PSOE will “treat betting like tobacco”, implementing more stringent restrictions aimed at protecting minors and vulnerable consumers.

Football to lose out – again

One industry certainly keeping an eye on the announcement is football, as Premiership clubs have previously been criticized by the government for their “indifference to betting advertising and sponsorships”.

Certainly, in Italy, football clubs have pushed back on the harsh restrictions as clubs lose important revenue and buying powers.

Despite the recently imposed blanket ban on advertising not taking effect until 1 January 2019, many advertisers are worried about the legalities of such a ban, as they have contracts that go well beyond that date.

Although Spain’s Drug Support Council has the power to pass decrees with legal force in cases such as this, it seemed a complete about-turn after calls for progress in Italian betting just a few months ago.

Gambling harm policy

Last month it was announced that the Council is going to introduce a new “gambling harm” policy, with its soon-to-launch Action Plan on Addictions 2018-2020 mandate. The mandate is designed to advise a number of the country’s health and social organizations about how to tackle addiction.

The document will outline new proposals for guidelines on a range of addictions, including substance abuse. However, in an unusual move, it will classify the fallout from gambling addiction as a drug addiction. The reclassification might mean that vulnerable users have more access to resources.

The mandate was devised in collaboration with Spain’s National Health Ministry and the gambling regulator, the Direccion General de Ordenacion del Juego (DGOJ). The partnership between these organizations shows a willingness by both parties to improve the care received by those who suffer from problem gambling or gambling addiction.

Combined with recent announcements, it is clear that the new budget will seek to change the landscape of advertising with the gambling and betting sector, alongside new initiatives that will run over the next few years.

PSOE will present its budget to the EU on October 15, seeking to gain approval on its spending plans and fiscal policies. The budget will then be forwarded to Spain’s Congress for a final vote.