Gambling Ads Facing Restrictions in Spain

Publish: 17.10.2018
Gambling operators in Spain could be subject to the same restrictions on advertising as the tobacco industry. The current minority government and a rival party have struck a budget deal that cuts the industry’s ad spends significantly.

Local media outlets reported on Friday that the minority PSOE government led by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez avoided a snap election call by striking a deal with the Unidos Podemos party. The party has extended its support to Sanchez for the 2019 budget plan.

According to the new budget plan, online gambling regulations and betting advertising rules will be similar to that of tobacco products. The budget document claims that sports broadcasts are “flooded with ads that offer live betting” which could lead to serious addiction problems. Therefore, strict regulations are necessary for the industry.

The budget further suggests that there should be an increased number of responsible gambling messages to stop problem gambling behavior. It also advises allocating a percentage of licensing fees paid by online casino operators to repair the adverse effects consequent of the game activity. The regulations are somewhat similar to what is proposed by the Labour Party in the UK which is focusing on limiting gambling ads to handle problem gambling behaviors.

However, the “gambling=tobacco” concept has irked the Spanish gambling industry. President of Spanish online gaming operator’s association jDigital Mikel Lopez de Torre told local media that strict restrictions will only help in the growth of the online black market. He noted that advertising is the only “differential weapon” for Spanish operators to compete against internationally licensed sites.

The Spanish Association of Advertisers isn’t content with the proposal either. For them, the lucrative gambling advertising revenue lies at considerable risk with the new budget. Spanish sports teams and associations have a similar opinion as they will have to give up gambling sponsorships.

CeJuego industry association head Alejandro Landaluce said that the new restrictions on gambling advertisement must be applied fairly and should include state-run lottery operators SELAE and ONCE as well. The local regulatory body Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) is advising stakeholders to avoid panicking until there is clarity on the matter.

The local gambling industry has operated under self-regulated advertising rules. The result was an unprecedented increase in betting ads. According to Spanish news sources, about 2.5 million gambling ads were shown across all media in 2016, signaling a 3x increase from the 2016 total.