Jdigital – Spanish government should prepare for an imminent black market surge

Spanish online gambling trade association Jdigital has issued its response to Spain’s Council of Ministers approving the federal passage of the ‘Royal Decree on Advertising’ to usher in Europe’s most stringent code on gambling advertising.

At the forefront of Jdigital’s concerns, the trade body stated that it is now ‘more than probable that Spain will see an increase in illegal gambling’ with the Decree being enforced across Spain’s 17 autonomous communities.  

Jdigital maintained its previous stance that Spain’s Consumer Affairs Ministry had applied ‘disproportionate restrictions which mirror prohibition conditions’ on licensed incumbents.

It said: “As has happened in other countries where similar measures were adopted, the foreseeable increase in the activity of unlicensed operators, which will have dire consequences in terms of the protection of vulnerable groups.”

Restricting all traditional advertising mediums to licensed operators, Jdigital warned that Spain’s coalition government will simple leave society’s most vulnerable groups and at-risk consumers to be directly targeted by black-market actors, leading to an inevitable increase in gambling addiction.

As a trade body, Jdigital underlined its disbelief that licensed operators who offered the government proven alternative measures to improve safer gambling standards had been simply categorised ‘into good or bad gambling’ – as the government undertook the critical mandate of updating Spain’s federal advertising code.

Jdigital reiterated that its members had formally proposed and agreed to abide by the conditions set by ‘Code of Conduct on Commercial Communications of Gambling Activities’.  

Nevertheless, the code’s rejection by the government sees Jdigital and its members question whether a disproportionate response lacking evidence in its recommendations was simply undertaken on ideological grounds with ‘no credible consumer protection objectives’.

Jdigital holds similar concerns voiced by EU-level counterpart, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), in that the government has created unfair market conditions favouring state-owned lottery operators ONCE and SELAE – who are recognised as Spanish gambling’s biggest advertisers.

“We consider that the Draft Royal Decree on Commercial Communications of Gambling Activities approved today by the Council of Ministers is discriminatory, unfair and disproportionate, especially in a market in which online gambling is a legal activity,” Jdigital concluded.

“Online gambling is already highly regulated and where the incidence rate of problem gambling has remained stable at 0.3% of the population between 15 and 65 years of age since 2015, being one of the lowest in Europe, as indicated by the National Plan on Drugs.”

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