Spain to Classify Gambling Addiction as a Mental Disorder

  • The Spanish regulator has updated its 2019-20 Responsible Gaming Program
  • Further research will be conducted by authorities in relation to problem gambling
  • Plans to study the personal situations of those on the country's self-exclusion list
the famous Cibeles fountain in Madrid, Spain
The Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ), Spain’s gambling regulator, has announced that gambling addiction will be classed as a mental disorder going forward. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Update approved by members

Spain’s gambling regulator, the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ), has announced that gambling addiction will be classed as a mental disorder after updating its 2019-20 Responsible Gaming Program.

update was approved by the Responsible Gaming Advisory Council (CAJR) following a vote

The update was approved by the Responsible Gaming Advisory Council (CAJR) following a vote among its members. Now that it has passed, a series of measures will be rolled out over the coming months to combat Spain’s alarming gambling problem.

A study is the next step

The CAJR and the DGOJ will work together to develop a list of important variables that can help identify if a person has a problem with gambling. It will also be conducting further research to assess the extent of gambling addiction in Spain.

The DGOJ believes that better decisions can be made by using such data. It also believes that such a measure will provide a path for public policies on the issue. This data can also help with issues that are related, such as the social impact of problem gambling.

One of the key areas of study for the DGOJ will be in relation to the self-exclusion scheme in Spain. This is known as the General Registry of Access to Game Interdictions. The study aims to identify potential improvements on both an operational and regulatory level.

The focus will be on individuals on the self-exclusion list. The study will look at the personal situations and backgrounds of these people. There will also be an investigation into the operators used by these gamblers.

New alert system being created

The DGOJ has also revealed that it is creating an alert system. This system will flag cases of fraud when people register at an online gambling website. Verification of ID is now a mandatory step for regulators.

There is an existing player verification system that is used by operators in Spain use, which was provided to them by the DGOJ. However, there are further services needed as part of this verification system to make it better.

system will flag cases of fraud when people register at an online gambling website

The new alert service will flag any attempts that have been made to register an account using the same personal details as someone who has already registered.

Speaking about this system, the DGOJ said: “This complements the rest of the work that the DGOJ is doing to reinforce the guarantees of the identity verification process prior to the activation of user registration.”

Problem gambling rife in Spain

These new policies have been introduced to address concerns about the alarming rates of gambling addiction in Spain. 

Online gambling in the country has increased from 2012 to 2017 by 387%. Spain has also been found to have Europe’s highest proportion of teenage gamblers. The proliferation of gambling has also resulted in numerous protests taking place across the country.

Residents have voiced their concerns about the number of retail betting shops that have recently opened in Spain. This is the reason why Madrid has put restrictions on where betting shops can be located. For example, they betting shops must be a certain distance away from schools.

Calls have also been made for the introduction of restrictions on gambling ads in the country. Some have called for a blanket ban similar to the one in place in Italy. Others want similar restrictions to the rules in place for the tobacco industry. 

Despite all of these issues, a lot of people believe that gambling is an ideal way to help the struggling economy in Spain. A significant amount of revenue is generated by the sector and the country has lowered taxes for online gambling operators.