After raising a range of concerns following the passage of the ‘Royal Decree of Commercial Communications of Online Gambling Activities’, the Spanish online gambling trade group Jdigital has warned of a possible black market revolt.
In response to the green-light being released, Jdigital notes that it is “more probable” that the cabinet in Spain has awarded a rise in illicit gambling that could occur after approval of the Royal Decree.
Suggesting that “discriminatory, unfair and disproportionate” is the Royal Decree, the group says this is particularly so “in a market in which online gambling is a legal activity and is already highly regulated.”
Jdigital has established a problem gaming prevalence that, as suggested by the National Drug Plan, “has remained stable” at 0.3 percent of the population between the ages of 15 and 65 since 2015.
Jdigital cautioned that the government of Spain’s coalition will leave society’s most vulnerable communities and at-risk customers specifically targeted by black-market players, restricting all conventional advertising media to licenced operators, leading to an eventual rise in gambling addiction.
It was clarified in the statement: “Unfortunately, we are afraid that the regulation proposed by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs may have the opposite effect to that intended since it implies such a disproportionate restriction of the advertising activity of legal operators that it is comparable, in practice, to a prohibition of it.
“This will mean, as has happened in other countries where similar measures were adopted, the foreseeable increase in the activity of unlicensed operators, which will have dire consequences in terms of the protection of vulnerable groups.”
As a trade group, Jdigital also stressed its disagreement that licenced operators who provided the government with proven alternative steps to enhance safer gambling standards were merely categorised as ‘good or bad gambling’ as the government undertook the critical mandate of updating the federal advertisement code of Spain.
In addition, Jdigital also commented on similar concerns expressed by the European Gaming and Betting Association, the EU-level equivalent, in that the government has established unfair market conditions favouring state-owned lottery operators ONCE and SELAE, known as the largest advertisers of Spanish gambling.