SBC News Jdigital: Hostile reforms will damage Spanish online gambling’s consumer appeal 

Jdigital: Hostile reforms will damage Spanish online gambling’s consumer appeal 

 Spain’s government has been urged not to implement changes to the Gambling Law of 2011, which will restrict the product and services of licensed online gambling operators.

A letter by Jorge Hinojosa, President of Jdigital Spain’s online gambling trade association, warned that reforms allowed by the Senate pointed to Spanish gambling “entering a chronification due to restrictive regulations”.

Last month, the Spanish Senate voted in favour of a mandate to overhaul Spain’s Gambling Law of 2011, endorsing a package of new reforms put forward by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

The reforms will allow the Ministry to tighten laws on advertising whilst imposing new customer care controls and safeguards on online gambling operators’ websites, apps and games.

New rules will require operators to undertake significant technical changes to their products in order for each customer to set individual session times and spend amounts when playing online casino games and slots – requirements that can’t be changed within a 24hr period.

Following each session, customers must be provided with a breakdown of information on time spent, money wagered, and losses accumulated.

Further technical changes will be required on online casino and slot games that can no longer feature tabs or in-game messages “that promote intensive play,” such as “play again”, “one more time”, or “you were close to winning!”

Jdigital responded that the reforms had regressed the original mandate of the Gambling Law, to provide a functional online gambling marketplace that can protect Spanish Consumers.

“2011 represented an important milestone that established online gambling and guaranteed a safe,  secure practice to its users,  who since then, were protected and could bet in a reliable environment,” Hinojosa explained.  

Yet since 2020, Spanish gambling has become a target of a hostile Ministry of Consumer Affairs, which has imposed a damaging restriction on licensed operators serving the interests of national consumers.

Hinojosa pointed to the introduction of Spain’s Royal Decree on Advertising, which was federally implemented during Q3 2021 as “the end point of online gambling in our country”.

A year under the rules of the Decree has showcased the damages done to Spain’s gambling and advertising sectors – “The reality is that, since September 1, 2021, online gambling in Spain is experiencing stagnation and a recession that casts doubt on the continuity of many operators in   our country.

“According to DGOJ, marketing budget in Q2 2022 fell by -30.25% year-on-year. Advertising budgets barely reached €32 million April to June 2022, 48% less than a year ago, and investment in sponsorship was limited to €375,479, 95% less than in the same period of 2021.”

With no access to advertising, Jdigital noted that research by SigmaDos and Kantar detailed that “53% of Spanish online gamblers declare to play in .es and .com domains indistinctly.

Jdigital maintains its ‘constitutional appeal’ against the decree, which was illegally enforced across Spanish provinces by an ideologically motivated Ministry of Consumer Affairs that took no account of industry and advertising feedback when drafting its rules.

The trade body maintains that its members have always supported well-designed safeguards to protect Spanish consumers, such as the mandate to establish a unified self-exclusion system operating across the country’s autonomous communities.

“I would like to highlight that the industry will always – and has always – supported   legislation that improves the security and protection of consumers.”

“Thus, we remain open and committed to a fluid dialogue with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs through the DGOJ, with which we already have an excellent relationship, to working for an equitable and fair regulation.

“This is an innovative, modern, wealth-generating industry, committed to the values of responsible, safe gambling and we want to continue to be so for many years to come.”

 

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