SBC News Spain's Gambling Minister warns of tougher advertising restrictions

Spain’s Gambling Minister warns of tougher advertising restrictions

Spain’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs will prioritise restoring gambling advertising restrictions as intended by the Royal Decree on Advertising.

The plan was outlined by Pablo Bustinduy, Spain’s new Minister of Social Rights and Consumer Affairs, addressing media on the current framework of federal rules on gambling advertising.

Confusion has arisen in the Spanish media, as this April the Supreme Court annulled specific articles of the Royal Decree on Advertising.

In an address to the Spanish media and the Directorate General of Gambling Regulation (DGOJ), Bustinduy intends to reintroduce and enhance restrictions on gambling advertising through legislative means, following annulments determined by the Supreme Court.

Since 2020, the Decree had limited gambling advertising on all Spanish media platforms from the early morning hours of 1 to 5 am. Further restrictions followed in 2022, as the Decree imposed a blanket ban on all forms of gambling sponsorships in professional sports, excluding state lotteries.

The Decree carried further restrictions, prohibiting the marketing of bonuses and the use of athlete and celebrity endorsements (including social media influencers).

Jdigital, Spain’s online gambling trade association, had challenged the Ministry of Consumer Affairs on how the Decree and its restrictions had been applied as federal law.

This April, the Supreme Court determined that the Ministry had bypassed key constitutional procedures to implement specific Decree restrictions as federal laws.

The Court sided with Jdigital, asserting that the Decree had imposed certain articles without due oversight, which would implement broad restrictions on business freedoms related to advertising.

The judgment annulled several articles, including Articles 1 and 3, which restrict ‘promotional advertising incentives’ targeting new clients (bonuses), and Article 15, which prohibited the use of celebrities and athletes in gambling advertisements.

Additionally, Article 23, paragraph 1, which broadly banned the commercial communication of gambling offers through online platforms, was further canceled.

On gambling advertising, the court deemed that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has the right to impose changes to Spanish advertising laws; however, it must establish specific laws and unique determinations related to gambling should it move to rectify the Royal Decree on Advertising.

Minister Bustinduy accepted the decision but warned that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs will restore tougher restrictions on gambling advertising.

Accepting a new remit, Bustinduy detailed that efforts are centered on limiting advertising on the internet and social media, curtailing the use of celebrities or influencers in gambling campaigns, and regulating welcome bonuses that predominantly target young individuals.

Furthermore, new laws will be imposed on restricting the promotion of ‘loot boxes’ and ID verification requirements for video games, which were sidelined from the original Decree.

Elsewhere, Bustinduy expressed no change to the Ministry’s agenda to overhaul Spanish gambling laws, in which it will apply the laws “Royal Decree on Responsible Gaming Environments

The mandate aims to ensure that by 2024, Spanish gambling will have the most stringent surveillance of operators and market activities in Europe. Measures will include a new centralized player registry and the mandatory record-keeping of ‘risk profiles’ for customers under the age of 25.

Under consultation by DGOJ, doubts have surfaced regarding whether the technical requirements of the Decree can be achieved by Spanish authorities who are tasked with the stringent supervision of gambling activities and consumer engagements.

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