The regional governments of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities have agreed to collaborate in developing an ‘interconnected self-exclusion registry’ covering all forms of gambling (land-based and digital).
The decision follows a meeting of Spain’s ‘Gambling Policy Council’, chaired by Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzón.
The development of a central gambling self-exclusion scheme was majority approved, with the government of Catalonia voting against the proposal, whilst the Basque Country and Valencian province abstained from taking a decision.
The proposal put forward by Spain’s Consumer Affairs Ministry has the further backing of Spain’s North African autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, who plan to adopt the scheme as licensing requirements to join their online gambling hubs.
Despite agreeing to cooperate, the Gambling Policy Council has yet to define key standards and requirements that each autonomous region will have to adopt in order to effectively operate the self-exclusion scheme.
Following the agreement, autonomous representatives will have four months to agree on and complete the technical framework for self exclusion requirements to be put forward as a federal order by Spain’s central government.
The creation of a central self-exclusion scheme had been earmarked as a key ‘stage-2 objective’ of Alberto Garzon’s reform of Spanish gambling laws, following on from this October’s enforcement of the Royal Decree on Advertising.
Online gaming association JDigital has welcomed the new decision, which it recognised to be ‘an important advance in the protection of players’, stating that its members had ‘always been in favour of creating such measures’.
Praising the latest decision, JDigital said that it will support the government in implementing the measures: “We also make ourselves available to the Government to offer our collaboration and knowledge about the operation of this industry in order to define and implement the measures that can protect gamblers in the most efficient way.”
JDigital also confirmed that its members are all connected with the RGIAJ, allowing them to ‘detect in real time when a self-excluded user wants to access one of their platforms’ and prevent their registration.
The statement added: “From Jdigital, we would like to value the commitment of operators to responsible gambling. It shows that online gaming operators licensed in Spain have their own control mechanisms to prevent or limit access to their platforms to those who suffer from addiction or can develop problematic behaviors.
“Finally, we reiterate that we are fully in favour of promoting fair, equitable and proportionate regulation to the reality of gambling in Spain, where the incidence of gambling in Spain remains stable in 0.3% of the population between 15 and 65 years since 2015, as indicated by the National Drug Plan.”
In recent months, the Spanish government has cracked down on the gambling industry, calling for further player protection measures to be imposed – including a ban on gambling sponsorships, advertising limitations and prohibiting the use of credit cards for betting.
In July, the government notified the European Commission of its intention to implement such measures. In response, Jdigital submitted a ‘compendium of arguments’ to the European Commission, highlighting that the introduction of the Draft Royal Decree was in breach of EU law on business practices and fair market arrangements.