Heavier restrictions on advertising
The Council of State in Spain has approved new gambling advertising laws, the most restrictive yet for the country. The Royal Decree on Commercial Communications of Gambling Activities received a unanimous vote by the council members. The European Commission had previously approved the new rules.
Details of the Royal Decree were announced via Twitter on Tuesday:
Arguably the most significant rule change is a blanket ban on gambling company sponsorship of sports teams.
Tough gambling advertising laws
The Royal Decree will take effect one day after its publication in the Spanish Official Gazette. Officials told gambling operators that if they break the new rules, fines will be issued, starting at €100,000 ($117,091) and ranging as high as €1m ($1.1m).
Until now we have lived in the law of the jungle, where anything can be done.”
Alberto Garzon, the Spanish Minister of Consumer Affairs, stated that there had been no regulation of gambling advertising until this Royal Decree, saying: “Until now we have lived in the law of the jungle, where anything can be done.”
Tackling football advertising
In October, Garzon contacted the top officials of Spanish football clubs with a warning, as the new gambling advertising restrictions were expected to come into play. He said that the clubs must cease any existing relationships with gambling operators by September 2021.
The football clubs are not in support of the blanket sponsorship ban. The ban affects several teams, as many have just signed new gambling sponsorship deals over the past few months.
As of October, seven of 20 teams in La Liga, Spain’s top soccer division, have sponsors in the gambling industry. Included in the mix are Valencia and Seville.
On top of the sponsorship ban, the Royal Decree covers television, radio, and online advertisements as well as welcome bonuses. The new rules restrict ads to a 1am to 5am window, a time frame originally imposed when the COVID-19 pandemic first began. It also bans welcome bonuses for new players.
Opposed to the Royal Decree
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has come forward in opposition to the Royal Decree. The group feels the new rules discriminate against international operators and favor the state-owned lottery operators. The lottery operators do not have to follow the new regulations.
The EGBA is calling on the government to reconsider advertising restrictions as there is a lack of data to support the changes. Giving preference to state-run operators over private companies, the Association says, could conflict with the European Union’s state aid rules.
The EGBA stated that it is in full support of advertising responsibly. However, the group says the restrictions proposed are not cohesive with what the evidence shows, including the low problem gambling rate in the country.