The Ministry of Consumer Affairs of Spain is set to implement new gambling advertising regulations, leading to a near-complete prohibition.
Under the new restrictions, gambling, along with a complete ban on gambling sponsorship of sports jerseys, kits, and stadiums, will only be permitted at night between 1 am and 5 am, except the state-run lottery companies of the country, ONCE and SELAE, which will be exempted from the measure.
EGBA Secretary General Maarten Haijer urged the Spanish Government to rethink its restrictions because of a ‘lack of data’ in support of the measures and a possible dispute with EU state aid laws due to the granting of publicity rights to state-owned firms over private ones.
He said: “The restrictions clearly discriminate against private companies and favour the economic interests of the state-run lotteries, who are by far the country’s leading advertisers in the gambling sector.
“While EGBA fully supports responsible advertising, the scope and type of restrictions proposed are not justified by the evidence available, including the country’s relatively low problem gambling rate and the significantly lower public awareness towards gambling advertising compared to other major advertising sectors.”
According to the Spanish Association of Advertisers, state-run lotteries account for 65 percent of Spain’s gambling industry income and at least 34 percent of the country ‘s gambling advertisement budget, making them by far the country’s biggest gambling advertisers.
The AEA reported that ONCE, the state-run lottery corporation, is eleventh in the list of all companies that spent the most on advertisements last year, investing EUR 49 million, or 34 percent of the total advertising spending of the gambling industry (EUR 145.6 million).
A recent report by the University of Madrid found that the country has a problem gambling rate of 0.3 percent, one of the lowest in the world, while the Spanish government justified its policies on the grounds of protecting consumers and countering the ‘normalization of gambling by sports’. In addition, in terms of the number of people who recalled having seen or heard an advertisement, gambling ranks low, fifteenth among all advertising industries, according to AEA.