Andrea Vota, new Director-General of Jdigital has stated that Alberto Garzon, Spain’s Minister of Consumer Affairs, charged with overseeing federal gambling legislations, “knows full well that he is leading Spain towards a proliferation of illegal gambling websites, targeting vulnerable players”.
Vota who in July took leadership of Jdigital replacing Mikel Lopez de Torre has taken the responsibility of the online gambling trade association’s EU-level challenge against Spain’s Consumer Affairs Ministry radically modifying the approved federal mandate of Spain’s ‘Royal Decree on Advertising’.
Fresh to the industry, Vota issued his first public statement to SBC Noticias, in which he underlined that the Spanish coalition government’s plans risked the exact same outcomes as Italy’s prohibition on gambling advertising.
Vota maintains that Spanish gambling incumbents are fully justified in their EU high court challenge of Garzon’s amendments, as licensed operators face radical market altering restrictions inbound from October.
Beyond gambling, the EU appeal will outline the dire consequences and predicaments that Spain’s Consumer Affairs Ministry has placed upon Spain’s sports clubs, media owners and wider stakeholders.
“We are going to fight to soften and delay this regulation. Operators, agencies and sports clubs, are all concerned about the situation and we are meeting with all affected parties to explore challenges” Vota told SBC Noticias
“The more institutions that join us and present their arguments against the regulations, the more pressure can be placed on the government so that they understand that it is a disproportionate and unfair recourse”.
Having observed Spanish gambling developments from the sidelines, Vota believes that Spain’s political discourse on gambling has been thwarted by an ingrained ‘good-vs-bad narrative’, rejecting evidence and avoiding rationale in debate.
“The Government’s approach is wrong since it wants to focus discourse on a supposed ‘good game’ vs. ‘bad game’, where the ‘good game’ is that of public institutions and the supposed ‘bad game’ is the one played by operators,” Vota said.
“A comparative study of the GGR by European countries for online gaming companies in 2019 indicates that the GGR per person in Spain is 16 euros, the lowest in relation to other countries such as Sweden, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Greece or Italy. Likewise, its interannual growth is one of the lowest —7 percent— compared to Portugal, where it grew 41 percent, or France, with 19 percent”.
Vota acknowledges ‘industry rationale’, as the key objective that Spanish incumbents must work to put forward, as Spain’s federal debate on gambling legislation is at risk of being entrenched by political ideologies.
Having led public affairs for various European tech and IT multinationals, Vota highlights the importance of educating political actors, media and wider stakeholders in the nuances of the business sector.
“We have to explain the reality of the sector and remember that gambling is a legal and highly regulated activity in Spain. It is important to note that, despite the constant studies and data that seek to demonstrate that the gambling sector poses a danger to society, the official figures offered by the Government do not support their story”