To the surprise of Spanish gambling incumbents, the publishing of Tuesday ministerial gazette announced the appointment of Mikel Arana as new Director-General of the DGOJ – Spain’s gambling regulatory authority.
The announcement sees current Director-General Juan Espinosa end his eight-year executive tenure working for the DGOJ, in which he has led the agency for the past three years.
His replacement Arana is a former MP for the Basque autonomous community and has most recently served as the regional leader of Izquierda Unida (United Left) – Spain’s socialist coalition for the Basque country.
The appointment of Arana is reported to have been personally ordered by Alberto Garzon, Spain’s Minister of Consumer Affairs, who has been tasked by the PSOE-Podemos coalition government to overhaul Spanish federal gambling laws.
Taking office in January, Garzon had stated that despite enforcing radical changes to Spain’s federal gambling laws, his department would maintain the DGOJ’s leadership structure led by Espinosa.
Garzon is reported to have sanctioned the appointment of a new Director-General for the DGOJ, seeking to move the policy department in a different direction.
Radical 2020 changes to Spain’s gambling laws saw the PSOE-Podemos government approve Spain’s long-awaited Royal Decree on advertising, enforcing a series of stringent gambling advertising policies and restrictions.
However angering market incumbents, this April PSOE-Podemos fast-tracked its inbound advertising restrictions, attaching the Royal Decree to emergency COVID-19 legislations in which Spanish bookmakers were given no grace period to fulfil existing contracts.
Garzon has formally warned DGOJ licensees that the Royal Decree forms just the ‘first phase’ of the coalition government’s comprehensive reform of Spanish gambling.
Spain’s consumer affairs department is reported to be assessing options on developing a ‘federal registry’ to monitor all gambling consumer transactions. Whilst further reported initiatives see Garzon seek to replicate ‘UK fees’ helping raise funds for problem gambling treatment and support services.