Spain‘s gambling market will undertake significant changes following the Senate’s approval to reform the Gambling Law of 2011.
On Wednesday, Senate members voted 146 in favour (vs 113 abstentions) to amend the gambling law to “improve controls on sports manipulations, betting fraud and expand protections for problem gamblers.”
The headline proposal will allow Spanish gambling regulator DGOJ to operate a “Global Betting Market Research Service” (SIGMA) – a centrally controlled database of “persons involved in illicit gambling activities or betting/gambling related frauds”.
The SIGMA database will provide information to “all entities interested in eradicating fraud and manipulation of sports,” including the police, licensed operators, sports federations, professional leagues, and regional authorities.
The Senate’s vote further endorsed new customer safeguards and advertising rules proposed by Spain’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
New advertising rules aim to strengthen the Royal Decree on Advertising which came into federal existence in August 2021. The Decree banned betting/gambling sports sponsorships and enforced a 1-to-5 am window for gambling adverts to be allowed to broadcast on TV and radio networks.
New rules applied to advertising will require operators to ensure their advertisements are ‘socially responsible’. Gambling ads deemed inappropriate, anti-social, discriminatory, or suggest that gambling can enhance a person’s well-being or lifestyle will be prohibited.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs proposed further advertising restrictions “to complete the protections of the Royal Decree on Advertising”.
Online operators must ensure that users are notified of safer gambling information on self-exclusion, gambling support helplines, customer care and control tools upon entering a website or app.
Further safeguards will require customers to set individual session times and spend amounts when playing online casino games and slots – player requirements that can’t be changed within a 24hr period.
In addition, customer care teams must provide players with a breakdown of their gaming sessions, informing them of time and money spent, losses and further information.
Technical changes will apply to 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!”
At a federal level, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs will be allowed to establish a ‘National Registry for Self-Exclusion‘ operating across Spain’s 17 autonomous communities.
The creation of a federal gambling self-exclusion registry for online and land-based gambling was deemed a core objective for Spanish gambling, which was approved last summer by the regional governments of autonomous communities.
The project is endorsed by the Spanish overseas territories of Ceuta and Melilla, who will adopt the self-exclusion registry as a requirement for the licensing of online gambling businesses.
Legislative reforms will see Spain’s new “General Law on Consumer Protections” applied to the Gambling Law.
A modified law sanctioned at the start of the year, Spain’s new ‘Consumer Law’, can be used to mediate consumer disputes and malpractices in the digital and telecom sectors.
Infringements of the Consumer Law can lead to fines of between €150 to €10,000 for minor incidents, whilst larger businesses can face fines ranging from €100,00 to €1m.
The new Law further permits the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to temporarily suspend any business deemed of “serious consumer failings”, closing their business operations across Spain.
Collectively 22 amendments were approved to reform the Gambling Law, with the majority endorsed by the Democratic Parliamentary Group of the Senate (GPD).
Spanish media reports that gambling operators avoided a tax increase to 30% of revenues applied across all verticals, proposed by the Senate’s Izquierda Confederal group that failed to make the package of reforms.