EGBA – Black market looms on Spain if government proceeds with its advertising blackout

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has responded after the Spanish government radically altered its Royal Decree on Advertising mandate by adding further marketing and sports sponsorship restrictions on licensed incumbents.

Last week, a European Commission filing revealed that the Spanish government had drafted a series of new amendments to its approved Royal Decree on Advertising, banning betting sponsorships across all professional sports leagues.

Further amendments saw Spain’s Consumer Affairs Ministry recommend that complete withdrawal of welcome bonuses as an online gambling customer incentive.

The EGBA has warned the Spanish government not to proceed with adopting a ‘near blanket ban on gambling advertising’, in which media owners and sports clubs will only be allowed to display betting advertising between 1:00-5:00 am.

The Brussels based industry body states that the government’s inbound restrictions will simply increase black market engagements, with which Spain ‘already has a problem’ – pointing to +400 illegal websites banned by the DGOJ this year.

Fighting against black market actors, the EGBA warns the Spanish government that its advertising restrictions will close a vital channel in steering to consumers to licensed tax-generating operators.

Maarten Haijer, EGBA Secretary-General, said: “The near-absolute advertising ban proposed in Spain will deprive Spanish players of any information where they can play in a safe and secure environment. This is highly counterproductive and we urge the Spanish authorities to reconsider the proposals, and focus instead on strict regulation of the contents of advertising.”

Of further note, the EGBA highlights wider impacts on Spanish football as proposals are expected to negatively impact 41 of 42 La Liga football clubs ‘which are currently reeling from the financial fallout of COVID-19, costing them up to €80 million in lost advertising revenues’.

The EGBA advises the Spanish government and its related agencies to consider advertising standards and models which have been EU-validated as a safer form of policy governing betting advertising.

“This is highly counterproductive and we urge the Spanish authorities to reconsider the proposals, and focus instead on strict regulation of the contents of advertising,” added Haijer.

“We fully agree that advertising should be responsible, both in terms of content and design, and that is why we recently published a code of conduct on responsible advertising.

“The code offers practical ways in which gambling advertising can be conducted in a socially responsible way and as a conduit for informing citizens about important consumer protection measures, such as age restrictions and safer gambling tools.

“Finally, exempting state-involved lotteries, which account for two thirds of Spain’s gambling market, from the restrictions is unjustified, protectionist and discriminatory.”

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