Spain’s consumer protection minister, Alberto Garzón, said Wednesday he would push for his proposed near-total ban to be enforced by October on gambling ads.
The statement from Minister Garzón came after the European Commission expressed no opposition to Spain’s proposals to substantially limit gambling advertising.
It was this past February that the country’s consumer minister announced his intention to crack down on advertising by gambling companies to deliver on his campaign pledge to protect gambling addicts and youth.
Spain’s online casino and sports betting industry has exploded over the last decade and the state-owned lottery has been dwarfed by gaming websites. Minister Garzón vowed earlier this year that online gaming companies would cut advertisements by 80 percent and, among other things, put an end to celebrity endorsements.
It now appears he may be just a few months away from delivering on this vow.
Minister Garzón said on Wednesday that he would request the State Council to approve a Royal Decree banning gambling advertisements by September, and that he expects that the final approval by Spanish lawmakers could be obtained by October.
Earlier this month, Spain sent its latest draught Gambling Advertising Decree to the European Commission. The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it had no issues with the new measures, opening the way for the draft Decree to go before the Spanish State Council for final consideration.
Under the proposed amendments to the gambling advertising laws in Spain, commercials promoting gambling goods and services on TV , radio, and online channels will be limited to a four-hour period between 1 am and 5 am daily.
A previous draft of the Decree permitted gambling advertising during sporting events, but that exception was withdrawn by the current edition of the yet to be implemented legislation.
The proposed amendments would also prohibit gambling sponsorships of sports teams, leagues, and activities. It means gambling signage is excluded from the sporting stadiums, sporting uniforms, and other teamwear.
Online casino and sports betting operators face restrictions on bonus deals, including a ban on welcome bonuses and an upper cap on bonus deals that the Spanish gaming regulator, DGOJ, will set.
Celebrity sponsorship of gambling products and services will also be prohibited.
The European Gaming and Betting Association has been among the most vocal critics of the new regulations, describing them as “highly counterproductive” and encouraging the Spanish government to rethink its approach to controlling the gambling advertisement market.
EGBA General Secretary Maarten Haijer recently said that Spanish lawmakers would concentrate instead on “strict regulation of contents of advertising.”
Mr. Haijer continued by saying: “advertising has a crucial role to play in informing consumers which websites are regulated, and which are not” and that the “near absolute advertising ban proposed in Spain will deprive Spanish players of any information where they can play in a safe and secure environment.”
According to Mr. Haijer, state-lotteries are excluded from the proposed limitations that are “unjustified, protectionist and discriminatory.”