We like to keep you up to date with the latest in Spanish gaming news. Read on to find out what has been happening!

Spanish government proposes near blanket ban on gambling advertising

The Spanish government is set to ban welcome bonuses and gambling sponsorships as part of a revised draft Royal Decree on Gambling Advertising proposed by the country’s Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzón.

The new draft Royal Decree (full text available here) is an expanded version of the original February proposals. The main changes compared to the previous version are as follows.

  • Welcome bonuses are no longer permitted. Bonus offers may only be made to customers who have had an account for over one month and made a minimum of three deposits.
  • In addition to the previously proposed ban on stadium and league naming rights, shirt sponsorships by gambling operators will also no longer be permitted.
  • The previous exception for betting advertising around live broadcasts of sports events after 8pm has been eliminated. All broadcasted advertising by private gambling operators (on television, radio, and online) will now be limited to the 1am to 5am window.

The proposed restrictions are expected to have a significant impact on La Liga, Spain’s top-flight football league, which has a betting partnership with Cirsa’s Sportium brand. In addition, no fewer than eight La Liga clubs currently hold individual gambling shirt sponsorship agreements, with many others holding lower-level partnerships.

Timeline

The updated draft Royal Decree was notified to the European Commision on Thursday, July 9. Spain’s Council of State is also required to submit its advice on the new regulations before the draft Royal Decree goes to the Council of Ministers for final approval.

At present, no date has been set for this last step, but Minister of Consumer Affairs Garzón anticipates that the Royal Decree will enter into force ahead of the 2020-21 La Liga season – provided that the new measures gain the necessary approval in Brussels.

Industry reactions

Jdigital, the trade association that represents over 80% of Spain’s online gaming operators expressed deep concerns over the fairness and legality of the latest draft version of the Royal Decree:

“The discriminatory treatment of private gambling operators compared to their publicly owned competitors is highly worrisome. This discrimination is a direct attack on the freedom of business, a fundamental right expressly recognized in article 38 of the Spanish Constitution, and in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. In this regard, we would like to remind everyone that online gambling is a legal activity in Spain, which is governed by model regulations regarding access and activity control, and the protection of vulnerable groups – measures from which public and semi-public gambling operators are exempt. All this leads us to believe that the discrimination of private gambling is the result of ideological motivations rather than credible consumer protection objectives.

In this regard, it should be noted that the European Commission recommended in early 2019 to pursue legislation that gives identical treatment to state-owned and private operators. For this reason, we hope that the EC will object against the anti-competitive nature of the draft Royal Decree.”

Cejuego, Spain’s other main industry association, also indicated that the unequal treatment of the private industry compared to the (semi-)public operators Selea and ONCE would offer grounds for submitting a complaint to the European competition authorities.

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) said in a statement that the proposed advertising restrictions in Spain “will push more Spanish players towards the unregulated operators and will severely hurt the country’s football clubs.” Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA, added:

“Advertising has a crucial role to play in informing consumers which websites are regulated, and which are not. 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. This is highly counterproductive, and we urge the Spanish authorities to reconsider the proposals and focus instead on strict regulation of the contents of advertising.”

Sign up to receive a free copy of the Gaming in Spain Magazine

We are working hard on the next issue of our print Gaming in Spain Magazine, which is expected to come out in September.

The magazine will contain an extensive discussion of the new Royal Decree and its (legal) implications for the sector. In addition, we are more than happy to welcome our readers’ input on any topic that is relevant to Spain’s online gaming industry. If you would like to contribute, please contact Willem van Oort at willem@gamingin.eu.

To receive your FREE copy of the Gaming in Spain Magazine, please register here: https://signup.gamingin.eu/

Save the date: GiS Conference “Navigating new opportunities and restrictions in a mature market”

The current Spanish government is taking a more adversarial position against the industry but appears to have no plans to change the primary legislation. While there are new challenges, opportunities also remain.

Learn more about how to successfully navigate the Spanish gambling landscape at the upcoming Gaming in Spain Conference on November 12 in Madrid.

Save the date!

Other events

Due to current circumstances, most events that were to take place before the summer have been postponed.

However, the following events are still on track to take place later in the year:

  • The SBC Summit Barcelona will take place from September 8 – 11, but has been reorganized as a virtual event.
  • The 2020 Gaming in Holland Conference has now been scheduled to take place on September 22, one day prior to iGB Live in the Amsterdam RAI. Combine two events with one visit!
  • The Gaming in Germany Conference will take place on October 19, 2020 in Berlin – one day prior to iGB Berlin 2020. More details to follow soon. Save the date!
  • Betting on Sports America, the largest dedicated sports betting trade show in the world, returns to Meadowlands, New Jersey from 1 – 3 December.
  • The World Gaming Executive Summit will return to Barcelona from 7 – 9 December. Key themes on the agenda include AI, the future of land-based gaming, CSR, sustainable marketing, regulation updates, fantasy sports, and emerging marketing opportunities.