The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) called on the Spanish government to “balance and proportionate” new gambling laws.
The EGBA reiterated its support for the measures outlined in a 50-page agreement released by the PSOE government on 30 December. Nevertheless, it emphasised that the new measures must be ‘designed in such a way that they support rather than undermine the regulated market’.
In a statement on its website, EGBA Secretary-General Maarten Haijer said: “In the past, we have seen, in various jurisdictions, the introduction of well-meaning consumer protection measures which had an actual counterproductive effect because they pushed online players towards unregulated, off-shore websites which exposes them to dangerous practices and a lack of legal recourse when their consumer rights and protections are being trampled on.
“The Spanish government should pay attention to this risk and ensure that new measures, which might be considered, are mindful of the need to ensure a high participation rate of players in the Spanish regulated market, rather than the offshore market.
“This is true particularly in respect to advertising, which is a vital instrument to direct players to the gaming and betting websites which are licensed and regulated Spain – and away from risky websites.”
According to the EGBA, the regulations must give priority to social responsibility and protecting vulnerable consumers and minors alike. The PSOE’s proposed regulations include a strategy that will see the government work with regions to prevent the opening of gambling establishments before 10 pm and to limit their proximity to school.
Speaking to SBC on the subject, Jdigital chairman Mikel López de Torre said: “The reference to an advertising regulation along the lines of tobacco is certainly one that would exclude the approval of the Royal Decree as we know it. And if its text is changed drastically, that would mean going through the entire process again including, of course, a public consultation period.
“We certainly support the approval of the Royal Decree as we’ve been saying for the last two or three years. And still consider the approval of the changes in our advertising Code of Conduct a great leap forward by the industry and a clear gesture of commitment towards a sustainable market development. As well as the only guarantee of any short term changes in the gambling advertising landscape in Spain.”
Haijer concluded: “In most EU countries, advertising is also required to provide information about the risks of gambling and where and how consumers can obtain help if they need it.
“While we recognise that advertising can be seen to be excessive by regulators or public opinion, a certain level of advertising is required to ensure that consumers remain within the regulated online environment.”