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Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Spanish government proposes near blanket ban on gambling advertising

Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Spanish government proposes near blanket ban on gambling advertising

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.


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

To receive your FREE copy of the Gaming in Spain Magazine, please register here:

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.
Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Mikel Arana replaces Juan Espinosa as Director-General of the Spanish regulator DGOJ …and more!

Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Mikel Arana replaces Juan Espinosa as Director-General of the Spanish regulator DGOJ …and more!

Gaming in Spain webinar | A perfect storm? How to move forward in Spain’s new iGaming environment

On May 27 at 16:00 CET, Gaming in Spain will kick off its new webinar series with its first installment “A perfect storm? How to move forward in Spain’s new iGaming environment.”

In this webinar, we will discuss the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on Spain’s iGaming sector, the appointment of Mikel Arana as the new Director-General of the DGOJ, and the new Royal Decree on gambling advertising and responsible gambling.

Taken together, these developments have the potential to severely disrupt the status quo of the Spanish iGaming market. Our panelists will discuss what we can expect and how stakeholders can adjust.


  • Mikel López de Torre, Chairman of Jdigital
  • Eduardo Morales Hermo, Gambling & Betting Consultant at iGamingCo
  • Pedro López Martín-Andino, Managing Partner at MartínAndino Abogados

Registration for the very first Gaming in Spain webinar is now open:

Series characteristics

  • Every six weeks
  • 45 minutes
  • Expert panels
  • True audience engagement

For more information, please contact Willem van Oort: Or register now:

How Covid-19 will affect the Spanish gaming industry

Mauro De Fabritiis, founder of strategic consulting firm MDF Partners, has published an in-depth analysis of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Spanish gambling industry on the Gaming in Spain website.

In his analysis, Mr De Fabritiis outlines the short and medium-term factors that will impact Spain’s gambling sector in 2020 and beyond.

While it is possible to “surf the wave” of the of the ongoing COVID-19 emergency (instead of being swallowed), a return to “normal” requires a rethinking of the business models to deal with the long-term impact of the emergency.

Read the full article here.

EGBA launches pan-European responsible advertising code

Last week, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) published the first pan-European Code of Conduct for responsible advertising for online gambling. The Code introduces essential standards for advertising content, across all media platforms, and dedicated measures for social media. The Code has a particular focus on the protection of minors.

The “Code of Conduct on Responsible Advertising for Online Gambling” intends to complement and strengthen existing legal and self-regulatory frameworks for online gambling advertising.

The Code includes specific measures on:

  • Content moderation – how gambling advertising should and should not look like.
  • Minor protection – no gambling advertising during broadcasts dedicated to minors; age screening tools on social media to protect minors.
  • First-of-their-kind measures for social media marketing – age-gating on the social media profiles of gambling brands to ensure minors do not have access.
  • Pioneering measures for sponsorship arrangements – no sponsoring of activities which have a predominant appeal to minors.
  • Responsible gambling messaging and campaigns.

The Code applies to EGBA members and is open for signature by online gambling companies licensed in the EU/EEA and UK, as well as other industry bodies.

Upcoming events & webinars

The following events and webinars may be of interest to members of the GiS community.


Due to current events, 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.

  • EASG 2020, the 13th European Conference on Gambling Studies and Policy Issues, will take place in Oslo from 8 – 11 September. This year’s edition will focus on international differences in regulations and operations, as well as different approaches toward prevention, and treatment.
  • 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.

Webinars & virtual events

  • On 7 May, the EGR Weekly Virtual Series continues with “Cyber Attacks: What’s the impact of Covid-19?”
  • VIXIO GamblingCompliance webinar’s “Untangling Germany’s New State Gambling Treaty With DSWV” will address Germany’s newline gambling regulation on Tuesday, 12 May.
  • Do not miss the Gaming in Germany webinar “Responsible advertising in a regulated iGaming market,” on Wednesday, 20 May.

Mikel Arana replaces Juan Espinosa as Director-General of the Spanish regulator DGOJ

To the surprise of Spanish gambling stakeholders, Juan Espinosa has been replaced by Mikel Arana as the Director-General of the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ).

Mikel Arana previously represented the Basque left-wing parties Ezker Batua–Berdeak (United Left-Greens) and Ezker Anitza (Plural Left). Most recently, he served as interim official and auditor of the Economic Control Office of the Basque Government. He holds a law degree from the University of the Basque Country, a master’s degree in Human Rights, Democracy and Globalization from the Open University of Catalonia and an MBA from Madrid’s Carlos III University.

According to the statement published on the website of the DGOJ, Arana’s first priority will be the implementation of the recently published Royal Decree on gambling advertising.

Arana’s predecessor, Juan Espinosa, was highly esteemed by other industry stakeholders. It is not unlikely that Mikel Arana will feel inclined to take up a more adversarial position.

In a farewell email, Espinosa wrote that it “has been a challenging yet incredibly rewarding time in my professional life.” Espinosa also expressed the hope that his efforts had contributed to the public interest of strengthening the role of society in regulating the online gambling sector.

Other news

The Spanish government now has the votes to extend the state of alarm for a fourth time, prolonging it to May 23.

The Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) has published its activity report for the year 2019. The report shows, among other things, that online gambling revenues increased 6.95% compared to the previous year.

Spain’s La Liga football clubs are returning to training this week, ahead of the anticipated June resumption of competitive matches.

Private equity groups CVC Capital Partners and Blackstone are in separate talks about investments in Italy’s Serie A football league.

Portugal’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) rose 47.5% year-on-year for Q1 2020 to €68.9m, according to new data released by the country’s regulator SRIJ.

According to the latest estimates, 2020’s global gambling gross win will end up below 2012 levels – undoing, temporarily at least – eight years of continuous growth.

Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Spanish government publishes draft Royal Decree on Gambling Advertising

Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Spanish government publishes draft Royal Decree on Gambling Advertising

Today, the Spanish government has published its long-awaited draft Royal Decree on gambling advertising.

The full document is available for download here.


Royal Decree aims to place broad limits on consumer exposure to gambling advertising

The stated goal of the Royal Decree is the prevention of gambling addiction, the protection of minors, and consumer protection in general. The new Decree seeks to achieve this goal by significantly reducing the public’s exposure to gambling promotions.

According to Alberto Garzón, Minister of Consumer Affairs, the new advertising rules will be strictest in the EU; and 80% of current advertising would be illegal under the new regulations.

New rules not as draconian as feared

Despite Garzón’s claims, the new regulations – while considerably stricter than the previous rules – are not as draconian as many initially feared.

“Italy is a mirror in which companies operating in Spain do not want to be reflected. I am therefore glad to see that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has acknowledged both the success of the DGOJ’s ongoing efforts to promote responsibility and the fact that a total gambling advertising would not be practical. Even so, the new rules are much stricter than the existing ones; and they will certainly have a negative impact on the market,” said Carlos Pombo, Partner at Asensi Abogados.

“The regulations introduce many new restrictions. This is clearly not good news for operators. However, the new rules are not as strict as initially feared. Operators will have to learn how to market their services within the confines of this new framework. There are still many actions operators may undertake to promote their offering and to acquire new players,” Xavi Muñoz Bellvehí, Partner at ECIJA, added.

However, Pedro López, Partner at MartínAndino Abogados, warned that additional restrictions are not yet completely off the table:

“Due to previous announcements suggesting the possibility of a full blanket ban, we now regard this draft with some relief, as it still leaves a certain room for marketing activities. The truth is, however, that the sector is going to face very important restrictions; and these are going to be particularly harmful for those operators who obtained their licenses in 2019.   Still, it is important to bear in mind that this document is an initial draft and therefore we must hope that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs does not give in to pressure from certain political sectors and does not make the document even more restrictive.”

Advertising restrictions

As announced earlier, gambling ads on radio, television and online video platforms will be limited to a four-hour window between 01:00 and 05:00.

However, betting operators will still be allowed to run ads during live broadcasts taking place after 20:00. These ads may not refer to bonuses or contain direct inducements to bet, such as “play now.” No information on live odds can be shared in these ads.

Sponsorship of sports teams will still be permitted, although gambling branding on youth shirts will be banned. Operators may not enter into naming rights deals with stadiums or other entertainment venues. In-stadium advertising will not be permitted.

Advertising on billboards and bus stops will be subject to approval by the autonomous communities.

Social media ads are restricted to portals that have an age filtering solution in order to prevent minors from being targeted. For every four standard ads, one responsible gambling ad must be shown.

Gambling ads may not feature famous individuals or celebrities, or actors who may be mistaken for minors.

Bonuses and related promotional offers will be capped at €100.

All ads must contain the 18+ age restriction, as well as responsible gambling messaging.

Consumer protection & social responsibility

All licensed operators must develop a comprehensive social responsibility policy. Consumers must be adequately informed regarding win chances, costs, and risks, as well as (self) exclusion, parental controls, and deposit limits.

Operators must also establish mechanisms and protocols to objectively detect risky behavior among their registered users, as well as a telephone helpline to help inform their customers.

Next steps

The draft Royal Decree is subject to a public consultation that concludes March 16. Following the public consultation, the new measures will have to be approved by parliament.

Implementation is currently scheduled for June 2020.

Industry reactions

Unsurprisingly, trade association Jdigital did not welcome the government’s proposals, believing the announced restrictions to be unnecessarily severe:

“Jdigital advocates for sensible regulation of online gambling advertising, but we do not   agree with its ban. The measures proposed in the draft Royal Decree are very severe for a sector that engages in a completely legal and fully regulated activity. While the Ministry’s proposal does not totally prohibit the promotion of gambling services, the truth is that it   leaves the sector very little space to do so. Given this situation, we hope that the limited opportunities that remain will be sufficient to prevent the occurrence of unwanted effects, such as players moving to illegal and unregulated alternatives.”

Others, such as Eduardo Morales Hermo of leading gambling consultancy firm Ficom Leisure, believe that a fundamental rethink of the regulatory approach taken by the current government is warranted:

“Gambling is not creating a public health crisis. Problem gambling rates have, in fact, not increased during the seven years since online gambling has been regulated. The reality is that online gaming operators do not produce advertisements that link gambling with personal or economic success, much less encourage minors to gamble. I believe there is still time to properly reflect what measures are needed to improve gambling regulation in Spain.”


This week: ECIJA seminar on M&A for online gambling operators

Later this week, on Thursday, February 27, law firm ECIJA will organize a one-day seminar in Madrid on “Comprehensive compliance and conducting M&A in Spain’s online gaming sector.”

Since a new licensing window is not expected any time soon and gaming licenses are non-transferable, online gambling licenses can only be acquired (or sold) within the framework of an M&A transaction. Therefore, any company wishing to enter the Spanish gaming market can only obtain a Spanish iGaming license by acquiring an already licensed operator. Conversely, any operator wishing to sell all or part of his business should prepare for dealing with prospective new market entrants.

Xavi Muñoz, Partner at ECIJA, Mikel López de Torre, President of trade association Jdigital, and Willem van Oort, founder of Gaming in Spain, will present their visions on the expected consolidation in the Spanish online gaming market and its implications for regulatory obligations and compliance.

Download: Royal Decree on Gambling Advertising

Download: Royal Decree on Gambling Advertising

Today, the Spanish government published its long-awaited draft Royal Decree on Gambling Advertising.

Download the full document here.

Additional commentary and analysis will follow soon!

Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Royal Decree on gambling advertising “almost finished” …and more!

Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Royal Decree on gambling advertising “almost finished” …and more!

Royal Decree on gambling advertising “almost finished”

The long-awaited Royal Decree on the regulation of online gambling and, in particular, online gambling advertising appears to be almost finished.

According to “financial sources,” representatives of industry trade association Consejo Empresarial del Juego (CEJUEGO) will be briefed this week on the contents of the new Royal Decree.

According to the same sources, the advertising restrictions will fall into three categories. First, there will be new restrictions on the specific timeslots in which gambling advertising can be broadcasted. Second, betting advertising may only be broadcasted if the ads coincide with the event on which the bets are offered. Third and finally, live betting ads may only make up a limited percentage (certainly less than 50%) of all the ads broadcasted during a commercial break while a game is ongoing.

In a recent broadcast interview the new Minister for Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzón, who oversees gambling policy in the Pedro Sánchez government, said that gambling advertising was currently virtually unregulated: “it is the law of the jungle.” As a result, consumers are constantly enticed to gamble irresponsibly, thus creating a major public health issue, according to Garzón. Spanish problem gambling rates, however, are among the lowest in Europe.

Other measures the gambling industry can expect are a tax increase (reversing a recent cut), a ban on credit card gambling, and tightened opening hours for land-based operators.


Alberto Garzón praises DGOJ; Espinosa to continue as DG

In the abovementioned broadcast interview, Alberto Garzón also praised the “good work” of the officials of the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ), indicating that the change in government has not harmed the relationship between the Spanish gambling regulator and its new political supervisor.

Last month, Garzón visited the offices of the DGOJ and met with the Executive Board, as well as representatives of the different subdirectorates that make up the General Directorate.

The visit apparently went well, as the current Director-General of the DGOJ, Juan Garcia Espinosa, will maintain his position as head of Spain’s gambling regulatory authority.


Law firm ECIJA to organize seminar on compliance and M&A for online gambling operators

On February 27, ECIJA will organize a one-day seminar in Madrid on “Comprehensive compliance and conducting M&A in Spain’s online gaming sector.”

Xavi Muñoz, Partner at ECIJA, Mikel López de la Torre, President of trade association Jdigital, and Willem van Oort, founder of Gaming in Spain, will present their visions on the expected consolidation in the Spanish online gaming market and its implications for regulatory obligations and compliance.


Upcoming events

The following events may be of interest to members of the GiS community.

  • GamblingCompliance Global Regulatory Awards 2020, which celebrate excellence in compliance and responsible gambling initiatives, will be awarded on 22 April, 2020 at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in Central London.
  • The World Gaming Executive Summit will return to Barcelona from 30 June – 2 July, 2020. Key themes on the agenda include AI, the future of land-based gaming, CSR, sustainable marketing, regulation updates, fantasy sports, and emerging marketing opportunities.


DGOJ publishes updated online player profile

As in previous years, the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) has published an updated profile of the average or typical online gambler in Spain.

Unsurprisingly, players in the age group 26-35 are the most active online, but players in the next age cohort (36-45) spend considerably more money.

Somewhat more surprisingly, the average period during which online players remain active is only slightly less than five months.

The study also shows that while sports betting is still the most popular segment, participation in casino games is growing faster. Similarly, while considerably more men than women gamble online, female participation more than doubled in 2018.

The full study is available here.


Other news

Spain’s Council of Ministers has approved the appointment of José Antonio García, the Deputy Director General of Management and Institutional Relations of the DGOJ, as Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs.


Spanish media conglomerate PRISA, owner of El País, is considering to acquire Unidad Editorial, owner of Spain’s second newspaper El Mundo. If the negotiations succeed, a new national media behemoth would emerge that would own two daily newspapers, two economic newspapers, two sports newspapers, as well as a radio station.


Spanish youth generally see gambling as a fun and harmless leisure activity, a new study found.


The Community of Madrid is preparing a decree meant to protect minors from gambling-related harm.


The Madrid City Council has announced it will close all bookmakers that are not currently licensed by the Community of Madrid.


Meanwhile, a deputy in the legislative body of the Community of Valencia has tabled amendments to the Region’s Gambling Act with the aim of discouraging participation in gambling-related activities.


Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Industry experts discuss Spain’s newly announced gambling advertising restrictions

Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Industry experts discuss Spain’s newly announced gambling advertising restrictions

Spain to impose “tobacco-like” restrictions on gambling advertising as Parliament greenlights Sánchez government

Spain’s new coalition government, headed by Pedro Sánchez, has said it will bring gambling advertising regulations in line with those imposed on the tobacco industry.

“We will approve a regulation of the advertising of gambling – online gambling and betting – at the state level and similar to that of tobacco products,” the coalition agreement states. Specific details, however, have not yet been disclosed.

Considering the harsh rhetoric directed at the gambling sector during the latest election campaign, these new restrictions have the potential to significantly change Spain’s gambling landscape. Alberto Garzón is to be appointed as Minister of Consumer Affairs and will oversee the further development of Spain’s gambling regulation.

Below, we have gathered an exclusive selection of expert voices to explain what we do and don’t know, what stakeholders can expect, and how these newly announced measures might impact the industry.


The political outlook

Maria Rosa Rotondo, Managing Partner Spain & Portugal at Political Intelligence

At the moment it is still a little too early to predict the specific measures regarding gambling we can expect from the new coalition government.

First of all, we need to wait for the appointment of ministers and the subsequent organization of the different departments. This is relevant, because the government approach may change substantially depending on whether gambling will continue to rest with the Ministry of Finance or changes to Consumer Affairs, as announced.

Subsequently, each minister will appear before the relevant committee in the Congress of Deputies to explain their work plan. This appearance will shed more light on the specific measures we can expect, as well as the expected timelines for their implementation.

This work plan also has to take into account the actual political situation. It will be harder to pass legislation than to announce a set of intentions, even though the prevention of gambling addiction and increased control on gambling in general enjoy widespread public and political support.

Furthermore, this effort requires the participation of the Autonomous Communities that have competencies regarding betting shops. They may have different views on the matter. Hence, cooperation and alignment with the Autonomous Communities in this area is critical.

However, it is not difficult to foresee a harder stance against gambling (both online and land-based). Specific restrictions on advertising “similar to the tobacco advertising regime” are likely to be proposed, considering the fact that this measure is included in the coalition agreement (p. 20).

Therefore, we might expect measures that would require betting shops to cover their doors and windows in order to make them opaque, restrictions on external signs and lighting, as well as the obligation to carry aggressive warnings at the entrance, “similar in content and size to those of tobacco,” meaning that the warnings may cover 75% of the entrance of a betting shop or casino. There might be other restrictions as well with regard to other external advertising.

In addition, the new coalition government will seek to agree uniform criteria with the Autonomous Communities to prevent betting establishments from opening before 22:00 and to place limitations on their proximity to schools.

Other measures included in the coalition agreement are aimed at increasing player awareness, as well as at the prevention, early detection, and mitigation of problem gambling. In addition, we can expect measures that require direct involvement of operators in the development of harm-reducing measures. These new measures will be explicitly included in the regulatory framework that is applicable to operators.

At present, it is still somewhat unclear how the coalition agreement will impact gambling taxes. The agreement states that the administrative fee paid by online operators will be “redirected” to pay for preventative and awareness-raising initiatives. Whether this will mean a de facto tax increase or simply a shift in spending remains to be seen.


The view from the industry

Mikel López de Torre, President of of online trade body Jdigital

At this point, it is still too early to tell exactly what will happen. First, we will need to see how the ministries and their competences are going to be distributed. We see the move of gambling-related matters from the Health Ministry, as initially proposed, to Consumer Affairs as a positive development. However, the appointment of Alberto Garzón as Minister of Consumer Affairs is perhaps less welcome news, as he has shown a very negative attitude towards the entire gambling sector in the past.

All regulations have to follow, among other things, the principles of necessity and proportionality; and tobacco-style restrictions on gambling advertising are neither necessary nor proportional. Sensationalist headlines aside, government-released statistics clearly show that problem gambling is not a significant public health issue in Spain.

As I said before, it’s all guesswork at this point. But tobacco-style advertising regulations for the licensed online gambling sector would be, first and foremost, a tremendous boost for black-market operators. This has been proven time and again in the past. In short, imposing unreasonable restrictions on licensed operators may actually aggravate the very issues that legislators are now pretending to address.


Legal perspectives

Santiago Asensi, Managing Partner Asensi Abogados

So far, the so-called “tobacco style” restrictions on gambling advertising have only been an electoral promise without much further specification. It should also be noted that, based on previous political rhetoric, we should have been bracing for an almost total ban on all gambling advertising.

Fortunately, governing is much more difficult than making electoral promises; particularly when it comes to an area like gambling, where the legal and regulatory realities are being ignored by the public and politicians alike. Accordingly, I want to believe that the new government will listen to the industry before any restrictive measures are applied.

Whatever the case may be, we need to take into account that any restriction on gambling advertising would need to be proportional to the problem. As the problem gambling rate in Spain is no higher than 0.3%, a full advertising ban would make no sense, legally speaking, and should be challenged in court in the case that such a ban would be introduced.

Pedro López, Managing Partner MartínAndino Abogados

It would be quite feasible for the government to introduce limited measures aimed at restricting or limiting the advertising activity of online gaming operators through a Royal Decree – such as, for instance, prohibiting the betting advertising during the live broadcasts of sporting events.

A total ban on gambling advertising would be far more difficult to impose. In my view, it would require an amendment of the current Gambling Act. It seems unlikely that the current coalition of PSOE and Podemos could obtain the necessary majority.

Additionally, it would be extremely complicated to justify before the courts, or even before the competent EU authorities, that a total ban, or even severe restrictions, could be imposed on the online gaming sector, while the major lottery operators would – as the current government intends – remain unaffected.

Moreover, the Autonomous Communities (17 in Spain) are competent to regulate land-based gambling and betting, including its advertising activities. So it seems quite complicated to coordinate these measures with all the regional gambling authorities.


The view from Brussels: advertising in support of safe and healthy market

Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA)

EGBA welcomes policy measures which genuinely strengthen consumer protection in Spain’s online gambling market but reiterates that such measures should be balanced, proportionate and designed in such a way that they support rather than undermine the regulated market.

In the past, we have seen, in various jurisdictions, the introduction of well-meaning consumer protection measures which had an actual counterproductive effect because they pushed online players towards unregulated, off-shore websites which exposes them to dangerous practices and a lack of legal recourse when their consumer rights and protections are being trampled on.

The Spanish government should pay attention to this risk and ensure that new measures which might be considered are mindful of the need to ensure a high participation rate of players in the Spanish regulated market, rather than the offshore market.

This is true particularly in respect to advertising, which is a vital instrument to direct players to the gaming and betting websites which are licensed and regulated Spain – and away from risky websites.

As far as we are aware, there is no research or studies that conclude that the volume of advertising for gambling impacts the risk of problem gambling.  At the same time, EGBA obviously recognizes the need to ensure that advertising is responsible and helps protect vulnerable consumers and minors.

Gambling advertising does play an important role in informing consumers of which websites are regulated and licensed in Spain, and where they can play in a safe and regulate environment that takes into account their need to be protected. In most EU countries, advertising is also required to provide information about the risks of gambling and where and how consumers can obtain help if they need it.

While we recognize that advertising can be seen to be excessive by regulators or public opinion, a certain level of advertising is required to ensure that consumers remain within the regulated online environment.

GiS Conference report: Spain’s iGaming market still very attractive, but political threats loom

GiS Conference report: Spain’s iGaming market still very attractive, but political threats loom

On Thursday and Friday, the 2019 edition of the Gaming in Spain Conference took place in Madrid. With a solid line-up of expert speakers, including the Director General of the DGOJ, attendees were given the latest news, as well as in-depth analyses, of the current state of the Spanish online gambling market.

DGOJ: “Ball now in operators’ court”

Juan García Espinosa, Director General of the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ), delivered the opening keynote address at the 2019 Gaming in Spain Conference. Espinosa highlighted the successful regulation of the Spanish online market since 2013, when the first online licenses were issued. Moreover, the DGOJ’s expectation is that Spain’s online market will continue to see healthy growth.

Espinosa added, however, that “continued growth generates social concern.” And while the harm caused by the regulated gambling sector in reality appears almost negligible compared to, for instance, the alcohol and tobacco industries, the public perception has been quite different.

Yet, while the reality is that most players play only moderately, it is equally undeniable that some players do gamble excessively. For those players there gambling carries a real risk. Thus, it is up to the industry to prevent excesses.

Espinosa: “Coming to terms with the way consumers spend their money is a priority. Problem players display typical behavior; and we need to use this to identify them at an early stage. Of course, responsible gaming carries costs. But technology is constantly improving.”

In short, in order to keep the Spanish online market viable (in a political and social sense), operators should urgently take steps to improve the early detection of pathological gambling behavior and invest in measures to prevent or minimize harm.

Espinosa: “Spain has been the only jurisdiction in which online gambling tax rates have recently been lowered – even apart from the tax advantages offered to operators based in Ceuta and Melilla. Now, there has to be something in return from the industry.”

“No allies in Parliament”

María Rosa Rotondo, Managing Partner Spain & Portugal at Political Intelligence, offered an in-depth analysis of the political situation in Spain, following the national elections earlier this month.

“The election results have made the political situation more complex,” Rotondo said. “There is no clear path to a stable majority government.” At present the PSOE and Podemos are trying to form a minority government. This coalition can be expected to exhibit a greater hostility toward the industry than a purely PSOE administration.

But while the Partido Popular and other right-wing parties may be a bit friendlier toward the industry, the fact is that gambling is currently a priority across the political spectrum. “The sector has no allies in Parliament,” Rotondo observed.

Rotondo: “The reputation of the online sector is contaminated by the bad reputation of land-based gambling halls and betting shops. At present, neither society nor politicians differentiate between online and land-based gambling.”

Full advertising ban unlikely

Of the major parties, only Podemos has embraced a full, Italy-style gambling advertising ban. While the introduction of such a ban thus appears unlikely, the possibility cannot yet be fully excluded.

A complete or nearly complete advertising ban would have a strongly negative impact on the sector, all speakers agreed, if only because it would make it virtually impossible for customer between licensed and unlicensed operators.

“Gambling markets cannot function properly without advertising – because advertising highlights the licensed gambling companies to consumers, which, in turn, supports their participation in the regulated market,” Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) said.

Leading Spanish gambling lawyer, Santiago Asensi added that a gambling advertising ban would not be “up to the politicians alone.” “Such a ban can and will be challenged in court,” Asensi continued. “Restrictions on a legal industry must be proportionate to the goals these restrictions seek to achieve. A full advertising ban, in my opinion, would not qualify as a proportionate measure to prevent gambling-related harm in what is only a tiny minority of players.”

Courage needed for joint action

To head off some of the looming restrictions, Spanish-licensed operators would do well to take joint action in order to preserve the current state of the market. “While there are some potential threats on the horizon, at present Spain remains a very good market with very sensible regulation,” Dominik Beier, CEO of Interwetten, said.

Thus, in order to preserve the status quo, Guillermo Olagüe Sánchez, Subdirector General de Regulación del Juego at the DGOJ specifically advised operators to:

  1. gather better quality player data;
  2. actively cooperate with each other to minimize harm;
  3. identify and promote responsible gambling innovation; and
  4. make use of player behavior data throughout their supply chain.

While most speakers agreed that it would require “courage” to establish sincere cooperation between competitors, it was equally clear that all licensed operators have a common interest in creating and maintaining a sustainable online gambling market.

The recent agreement by the members of Spanish online trade association Jdigital to self-regulate their advertising and marketing expressions was therefore universally hailed as a very welcome first step in fostering closer cooperation.

Gaming in Spain Brand & Market Monitor

With up to thirty new operators about to enter or just having entered the Spanish iGaming market, keeping track of the performance of their brand(s) is becoming increasingly important to Spain-facing operators.

In order to fulfill the growing demand of reliable market intelligence, the 2019 Gaming in Spain Conference also marked the occasion of the presentation of the very first results of the Gaming in Spain Brand & Market Monitor, a survey held among 2,000 Spanish consumers on gambling behavior and attitudes.

A free summary of the Gaming in Spain Brand & Market Monitor is available for download here. Follow-up measurements will be held at a quarterly basis.

Watch the full GiS Conference online

All sessions of the 2019 Gaming in Spain Conference were streamed live. (Re)watch the full conference here.

Or check out the GiS photostream on Flickr, either to reminisce or to see what you missed.

In any case, we hope to see you next year!

Watch the 2019 Gaming in Spain Conference live stream here!

Watch the 2019 Gaming in Spain Conference live stream here!

Selected sessions of the 2019 Gaming in Spain Conference taking place Friday November 22, including the presentation of Juan Espinosa García, Director General of the DGOJ, as well as a panel discussion with Maarten Haijer, Secretary General of EGBA, on possible future advertising restrictions, will be streamed live.

Check out the conference website for the full event agenda.

Watch the live stream here:

Gaming in Spain Newsletter – Gaming in Spain Conference announces new sponsors for Madrid iGaming derby …and more!

Sportradar acquires Optima

Sports data and content supplier Sportradar has confirmed the acquisition of Seville-based sports betting and gaming omnichannel platform business Optima, with the deal effective immediately.

Optima will extend Sportradar’s current betting services portfolio to become a full-service B2B data, betting, trading and player management platform business. This will create a global “one-stop-shop” technology and services business capable of offering a complete turnkey solution including a dedicated sports betting and iGaming platform supported by existing leading sports data, risk management and marketing services.

“Optima joining Sportradar is the next natural step in the achievement of our company vision,” said Jacob Lopez, Chief Executive Officer of Optima. “There are numerous and evident product synergies between the two companies and we are excited about the potential of the combination of the leading trading, risk management and betting entertainment services with the leading integral omnichannel sports betting and gaming platform.”


DGOJ and tax authority sign cooperation agreement

Spanish regulator Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) and tax agency Agencia Estatal de Administracíon Tributaria (AEAT) have signed a new cooperation agreement.

Under the new agreement, the DGOJ will have access to updated data on operators’ compliance with their tax obligations, the payments they make to the AEAT, and the payments and withholdings related to State Lottery prizes.

In exchange, the DGOJ will provide AEAT with data related to player accounts, in order to fight more effectively against tax evasion and fraud.


Upcoming Events

The following events may be of interest to members of the GiS community.

  • Join MGM, Google, Hard Rock, GVC, Facebook, The Stars Group, William Hill, and many more in New York City, November 5 – 6, at Sports Betting USA.
  • On 5 November, 2019, the Swedish Trade Association for Online Gambling (BOS) will organize a lunch seminar on match-fixing and the new directives for betting on Swedish sports. If you wish to attend, RSVP no later than October 31 to
  • The second edition of European Gaming Congress, which will be held on 8 November 2019 in Milan, is specially designed to bring together industry experts, regulators, operators, and service providers from all across Europe in order to discuss issues such as compliance in licensing, operations, and marketing.
  • Attend Reputation matters: the gambling sector in the spotlight on 7 November, 2019 in London to learn more about the key issues and challenges surrounding the public perception of the gambling industry. Kenny Alexander, CEO of GVC, will deliver the opening keynote.
  • GamblingCompliance Global Regulatory Awards 2020, which celebrate excellence in compliance and responsible gambling initiatives, will be awarded on 22 April, 2020 at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in Central London.
  • The World Gaming Executive Summit will return to Barcelona from 30 June – 2 July,  2020. Key themes on the agenda include AI, the future of land-based gaming, CSR, sustainable marketing, regulation updates, fantasy sports, and emerging marketing opportunities.
  • World Regulatory Briefing now offers a series of free webinars on topics related to responsible gaming.


Gaming in Spain Conference announces new sponsors for Madrid iGaming derby

The 2019 Gaming in Spain Conference has been set up as a veritable iGaming derby. After spending the first conference day at the iconic Santiago Bernabéu, the second-day sessions will all be held at the state-of-the-art Wanda Metropolitano.

One conference, one city, two stadiums!

To celebrate this derby, Gaming in Spain Conference attendees may participate in a free draw to win a Real Madrid or Atlético Madrid football jersey. Don’t miss out and register today!

Having the 2019 GiS Conference at both these prime locations has been made possible by the generous support of our strategic partners: BetConstruct, Betradar, and Jdigital; our sponsors: Asensi Abogados, Betgenius, EngageMore, GiG, HooYu, IDnow, Leaseweb, MDF Partners, Microgaming, Midway AI, and Win in Melilla, as well as our media partners CalvinAyre, Casino News, Focus Gaming News, GamblingCompliance, Gambling Insider,, Online Casino Reports, SBCNews, and 5 Star iGaming Media.


Other news

A national investigation by the Spanish police found little evidence of underage gambling across the country’s licensed gambling premises. Trade association Jdigital expressed its support for the investigation.


Technology can play a key role in tackling problem gambling, says Jdigital chairman Mikel Lopez.


Last month, the DGOJ met other European regulators to support a common framework for online gaming.


Spain’s Competition & Markets Authority (CNMC) has allowed Grupo CIRSA to acquire bookmaker Sportiumoutright, permitting the Blackstone owned operator the right to purchase Ladbrokes 50% joint-venture shareholding.


888 is planning to establish an operation hub in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in a bid to improve its tax efficiency in the Spanish market.


Sisal is also planning to open a new office in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta to aid its expansion into the Spanish gaming market.


The mayor of San Roque has asked the Spanish government to grant tax advantages in order to attract online gaming companies to Spain’s Gibraltar region (Campo de Gibraltar).


Barcelona’s City Council has ruled that it will not permit the opening of any new gambling establishments for a period of one year.


Valencia’s municipal government has updated its laws governing gambling establishments operating within its jurisdiction.


GentingBet has announced Guillem Balagué as the operators newest football Ambassador for the 2019/20 season.


In a bid to prioritize responsible gambling measures, Åland Islands-based operator Paf has lowered its maximum annual loss limit from €30,000 to €25,000.


Better Collective has acquired 19,99% of the shares in responsible gaming outfit Mindway AI


Bolsa Madrid gambling group Codere SA will launch an investigation into the auditing of its Latin American business unit, as the firm admits to inconsistencies published in its year-to-date financial reporting


Bethard Group has become the latest member of the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA).


Mondobets, the first online betting operator with a professional fantasy football league, has collected over €1m during its latest financing round, thanks to the contribution of 159 investors through the alternative financing platformFellow Funders.

Gaming in Spain Newsletter – DGOJ “pleased” with results of online licensing process …and more!

Spanish regulator looking for technological solutions to encourage responsible gambling

Over two hundred people representing regulators, responsible gambling experts, and operators attended the first edition of the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego’s (DGOJ) “RegTech egambling international workshop” on June 17, 2019.

The workshop aimed to explore possible technological solutions related to fighting identity fraud, promoting safe electronic payments, and discouraging unhealthy gambling behavior.

In all three fields, technology was identified as a powerful tool to be used in strengthening the regulation of the sector and in guaranteeing compliance with current laws.

“All of us, industry and regulators, must place consumer protection at the forefront. This is absolutely attainable with ever decreasing costs thanks to the evolution of technology and innovation. We can all help build a safer environment if we make the most of these instruments to guarantee the social sustainability of gambling in the long run,” Juan Espinosa, Director General for Gambling Regulation, said.


Nearly 85% of Spanish adults engage in gambling

A large majority, nearly 85% of all Spaniards between 18 and 75, engaged in some form of gambling in 2018.

This is one of main findings of the market study Gambling and Society 2018 by CEJUEGO, the industry association representing Spain’s private gambling operators, and the Institute of Policy and Governance of the Carlos III University of Madrid.

The most popular forms of gambling in Spanish society are the SELAE and ONCE state-run lottery products. No fewer than 25.5m Spaniards participated in last year’s Christmas “el Gordo” lottery.

Only 1.5m Spaniards gambled online in 2018, with, on average, 600,000 people participating in an online game of chance in any given month.

Spain remains among the countries with the lowest rates of problem gambling, the study also found. The problem gambling rate in Spain is at 0.3% and, according to CEJUEGO, “has not increased in recent years.”

Another encouraging sign is that 92% of respondents see gambling as just another leisure option, likening the money wagered to the price of a ticket for a theme park or paying for drinks at a bar.


Upcoming events

The following events may be of interest to members of the GiS community.

  • SBC’s new fortnightly Betting on Sports webinar series opens on Wednesday 10 July 2019 (15:00 GMT) with Rare Breed – Betting on Politics.
  • The IMGL Autumn 2019 Conference takes place September 11–13 in Munich.
  • Betting on Sports 2019, the world’s largest sports betting conference & exhibition, will be held 17 – 20 September, 2019, in London. Betting on Sports 2019 will take place concurrently with CasinoBeats Summit 2019.
  • The International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) will hold its 2019 Annual Conference in Montego Bay, Jamaica from 30 September to 3 October 2019.
  • Kindred’s Sustainable Gambling Conference takes place 8 October, 2019 in Copenhagen.
  • The Responsibility in Gaming Conference, taking place 23 – 24 October, 2019 in Brussels, will focus on what operators and regulators can and should do to create an effective and workable responsible gaming policy.
  • World Regulatory Briefing now offers a series of free webinars on topics related to responsible gaming.

DGOJ “pleased” with results of online licensing process

During the last licensing window, around thirty operators applied for a remote license to operate in the Spanish market. Several applications have now been accepted by the DGOJ, including those of well-known international operators LeoVegas and the Gaming Innovation Group. The full list of currently licensed operators is available here.

Asked for comment, deputy director José Antonio García García said that the DGOJ was pleased with the application and licensing process: “It reflects the natural evolution of the online gambling market and we are happy that there are gambling operators who are interested in the Spanish market.”

“Our expectation is that new licensees will add value to the Spanish online gambling market and that they will conduct themselves with honesty and responsibility, aligning with the high standards of protection and security achieved since the opening of the market in Spain,” García García added.

However, García García also said that receiving a license is “only the first step” for operators. The DGOJ will continue to monitor their activities; and, if necessary, take enforcement action against any operator who violates the prevailing licensing conditions.


Other news

Improved performances from both the sports betting and casino verticals helped push Spanish online gaming revenue up 20.1% year-on-year in the first quarter.


A draft bill prohibiting Spanish-licensed operators from offering bets on events featuring non-adult athleteshas been made available for public consultation.


The Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego has outlined its strategy for the period 2019-2022.


In his annual report, Spain’s National Ombudsman once again points to the dangers of gambling and gambling advertising.


William Hill will significantly expand its Spanish market coverage and profile, as Spanish news reports detail that the FTSE bookmaker will sponsor seven La Liga 2 (Segunda) football clubs.


GVC Holdings European sportsbook property bwin will act as the main sponsor of Spanish football club Valencia CF until 2020.


Rank Group has announced plans to launch a Spain-facing sportsbook via its Enracha brand after renewing its deal with sportsbook provider Kambi.


Javier Sacristán Franco has been appointed the new Director of R. Franco Digital.


UK online gambling operator Bet365 has made its official launch into Mexico’s digital market via the domain.


Colombian football legend Carlos Valderrama has agreed to front Codere’s marketing campaign in the country.