Yesterday, Spain’s Council of Ministers adopted a new set of “urgent complementary measures” to deal with the country’s ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

These measures also contain several “consumer protection measures,” including severe restrictions (art. 37) on gambling advertising. The new restrictions amount to a de facto gambling advertising ban.

The measures will come into force on Friday and will remain valid until April 12 but can be extended if the current emergency continues. Presumably, the measures will remain in force for the duration of the crisis.

Provisions

Article 37 of yesterday’s Royal Decree contains the following provisions:

  • Gambling advertising that refers (either implicitly or explicitly) to the current Covid-19 crisis is prohibited.
  • Promotional activities aimed at attracting new customers or maintaining the loyalty of existing customers that make use of bonuses, discounts, prizes, or other gifts of economic value are not allowed.
  • Broadcast advertising is only allowed between 01:00 and 05:00 am. The same restrictions apply to online video platforms and video on demand services.
  • Online advertising, including individual email and social media messages, must be suspended.
  • Failure to comply with these measures will be considered a “grave infraction” of Spain’s current Gambling Act.

Reactions

Trade association Jdigital called the new advertising restrictions a “serious blow to a sector that is already suffering from the effects of the coronavirus crisis.”

“Further restrictions on online gaming advertising will not only worsen the situation in our industry, but will also have great repercussions on the income of the media, which – due to collapsing advertising revenue – are even now requesting government assistance,” Jdigital spokesperson Alba Castro Torruella added.

Javier Agustí, Secretary General of the Association of Commercial Radio Broadcasting (AERC), told newspaper El País that the government decree constituted “yet one more adversity in a time of many difficulties.”

According to figures released by the Spanish regulator DGOJ, Spanish-licensed online operators spent €168m on advertising in 2018.

The new advertising restrictions will make it even harder for smaller outfits to keep operating and will likely function as a trigger for further industry consolidation.

We will keep you informed of any further developments.