Gambling reform and the election
With Spain’s general election coming up next week, fighting talk between the parties has come on the topic of gambling reform. Unsurprisingly, the Podemos party is taking a hard stance on the issue after some negative reports on gambling. With gambling so high on the agenda, reform is inevitable.
Reform for Spain has been coming for a while, as the nation’s gambling and advertising codes are due to be reformed. With Spain’s General Election being held this Saturday, April 28, the new government will be required to deliver reform.
Local news sources have reported that the PSEO government (a minority) had agreed to the restriction of the gambling and betting services and advertising only last week.
Liberal Spain becomes hardline
Mikel Lopez de Torre, President of Spanish online gambling trade body JDigital, shared his view that regulatory change is inevitable. He was quoted as saying:
“The official figures on problem gambling in Spain, published by the administration last year, throw a 0.3% prevalence of problem gambling, the same figure as in the previous study. The Royal Decree on Gambling Advertising has been ready to be approved for a long time, and it´s only the political instability that’s prevented it from being passed.
“All the parties in Spain are aligned in that specific advertising regulations should replace the current self-regulation scenario. A view shared by JDigital and the online gambling industry.”
Double the number of gamblers
In April, El Pais and Xataka published reports outlining the gambling/bettering marketplace in Spain over the last 15 years. Xataka quotes treasury statistics showing that in 2018, there were 1.5 million gamblers, more than double the number from 2013. Not only have the numbers increased, but consumers have moved to online casinos and live betting from the previously favored “Once” lotteries and “Quinelas” betting pools.
The reports shown that the 2018 “add-spend” for betting advertising on sports programs (especially those with operators) has reached €330 million (£285m; $368m).
Xataka blames the entwined relationship between Spanish football and the bookmakers, with only Real Sociedad abstaining from a betting partnership in the whole La Liga Season.
Spanish football clubs in La Liga received further bashing from the investigative journal El Cierre, which published an open editorial about the use of star athletes to promote betting and wagering services. They also stated, “It is now almost impossible to separate betting from any Spanish football broadcast,” as in-program messaging promoting gambling by stating the latest match odds is on Spain’s most-watched football shows.
The Podemos Party and the government’s stance
Several anti-gambling measures have been published by the Podemos party. The leader of the populist socialist party, Pablo Iglesias, is also campaigning in Spain’s snap election. He has declared that unless his party’s forceful gambling demands are met, his party will not form a government. That is a much harder approach than that of current Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who has nevertheless confirmed that Spain should reform its advertising laws to limit the marketing capabilities of gambling/betting companies.
The PSEO government, whose future is a coalition with the Podemos party, has agreed to be stricter with its narrative on gambling. Instead, they compare their agenda to the rules for tobacco.
Whatever happens on the weekend, reform is coming.