Protests in Spain over the Proliferation of Gambling

  • Online gambling activity has grown by 387% from 2012 until 2017
  • Protesters worried about the multitude of sports betting shops popping up across the country
  • Increase in adolescent gambling is also an issue, highest rate of teenage addiction in Europe
  • Cities like Madrid have placed restrictions on how close betting shops can be to schools
Men and women share a protest sign hold a megaphone.
Thousands of people have protested against the rapid increase in gambling activity and betting shops in Spain. [Image: Shutterstock]

Citizens against increase in gambling

On Sunday, thousands of people marched through streets across Spain in protest against the rapid increase in gambling activity and betting shops across the country.

The largest demonstration took place in Spain’s capital city, Madrid. The protesters are unhappy with the number of betting shops popping up in and around schools. They are urging other alternatives for leisure activities.

Total elimination

Protesters want to betting shops to be closed down. Those protesting against gambling feel that it is destroying neighborhoods.

Adrián Belaire, a spokesperson for the group that organized the march, stated that the goal is to not regulation, but a total elimination of betting shops. Belaire said that these places cannot exist in the city or in the neighborhoods because

they’re [betting shops] always going to be next to leisure centers, primary schools, high schools, libraries or parks.”

The gambling industry has sparked alarm among many who see the growing presence of the activity in the streets and online. They feel the availability is an issue that leads to addiction problems.

The Spanish betting market has seen huge growth since 2014. According to the most recent Directorate General for Gambling Regulation, online gambling activity in Spain has increased 387% from 2012 until 2017.

Teenage addiction

Protesters are worried about the influx of betting shops across Spain, especially in regions like Madrid. The capital city is a central area where shops are popping up at an alarming rate, with many being built near schools.

According to VSO News, a new study has found an increase in teenage gambling addiction across the country. Spain reportedly has the highest rate of teenage addiction in Europe.

The Federation of Rehabilitated Gamblers and Madrid’s Association of Psychologists report that one in five Spanish teens have a gambling addiction. Teens from the age of 14 to 21 took part in the survey.

Spain reportedly has the highest rate of teenage addiction in Europe

Stricter regulations are being called for regarding betting shop advertising, as the activity has become normalized for teens.

Experts from the Official College of Psychologists in Madrid have stated that the age limit to access betting shops has been lowered. Therefore, more families report gambling addiction issues involving their children.

Regulation

In Spain, the government is in charge of online gambling and regulating games. The self-governing first-level political subdivisions of Spain, like Madrid, are responsible for gambling in their territory.

Authorities in Madrid recently took action against gambling by banning public media from advertising bets. Officials also placed a 100-meter ban on betting shops located near schools.