Spanish government calls for ban on gambling ads
Spain’s current minority PSOE government headed by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez struck a budget deal with rival party Unidos Podemos which could have significant impact on online gambling advertising.
Stipulated in the new budget are calls for online gambling ads to be treated the same as that of tobacco products which means gambling operators could soon be facing tougher advertising rules and tighter restrictions in Spain. The proposed measures are in response to the current state of online gambling advertising where live betting ads are flooding sports broadcasts, leading to serious addiction problems, the document claims.
The agreement also calls for more data to be provided to players to warn them of potential problem gambling behavior, as well as increased responsible gambling messages on gambling ads. The new budget plan also recommends that a percentage of licensing fees be spent on reversing the negative effects of the gambling activity.
jDigital, an association of Spanish online gambling operators has been criticizing the proposed restrictions saying it will only benefit the online black market. Association president Mikel Lopez de Torre says the ability of Spanish-licensed operators to advertise locally plays a crucial role in fighting off competition with sites carrying international licenses.
The Spanish Association of Advertisers is also ringing alarm bells over the issue as the massive revenue they get from the Spanish gaming sector may be placed in jeopardy by the proposal. Sports teams and associations could also lose huge gambling sponsorships if the measures push through. CeJuego industry association head Alejandro Landaluce says for the sake of fairness, state-run lottery operators ONCE and SELAE should also face the same restrictions.
Meanwhile, Spain’s regulatory body Direccion General de Ordenacion del Juego (DGOJ) said there is no need to panic yet as the budget is still in its initial stage. Everything is unclear and tentative until the 2019 plan is signed and finalized.
Figures from the DGOJ revealed iGaming operators had to shell out €81.3 million on promotional activity, over €41 million of which was spent on advertising. The stats are only for the first half of 2018. The numbers equate to a 55.2% rise year on year, even boosted by sports betting sites gearing up for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The online gambling sector is enjoying massive popularity in Spain with the industry sitting at the top of individual eCommerce transactions, overtaking any other sector in the country for the first quarter of 2018. The figures were contained in a report recently released by the España que publica la Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia.
With Spain’s online gambling sector running their own advertising regime, 2.5 million ads were shown across all media in 2017, a significant increase from 2016. Spain is not the only country to look at curbing gambling ads.
Europe has seen widespread efforts to put in place gambling advertising restrictions. Just this summer, an absolute prohibition took effect in Italy. In the UK, operators are coming up with their own measures to avoid stricter rules from the government.
The Italian government submitted an economic report which showed that the Agency of Customs and Monopolies (ADM) had blocked as many as 7,000 online gambling websites that were not licensed to operate in the country.
Italian players are not shy in accessing these unlicensed online gambling websites and stats from the report show that over 10 million attempts were made to play at these illegal online gambling websites. The Italian gambling regulator has stepped up its crackdown on unlicensed iGaming websites by asking internet service providers (ISPs) to block the IP addresses of these unlicensed firms. They have also issued heavy fines to unlicensed operators in order to send a strong message throughout the industry.
The report went on to say “The violations in the field are decreasing “thanks to the illegal circuit regularization – achieved by two tax amnesties for unlicensed foreign bookmakers – as well as the intense control actions on the territory, that created a huge deterrent effect in a context where technological frauds are increasingly sophisticated and targeted.”
The ADM has also been instructed by the government to continue its crackdown and clean up the iGaming industry in the country.