Spain’s proposed advertising restrictions will increase unregulated gambling and severely hurt the country’s already beleaguered football clubs
Proposed advertising restrictions in Spain will push more Spanish players towards online gambling websites which are not regulated and severely hurt the country’s football clubs which are trying to recover from the financial fallout of COVID-19.
BRUSSELS, 10 JULY 2020 – The Ministry of Consumer Affairs in Spain has proposed changes to the country’s advertising rules for online gambling which will lead to a near complete ban on advertising in the sector. The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) believes the proposals, published yesterday, will lead to more of the country’s online gamblers playing on websites not licensed or regulated in Spain and severely hurt the country’s football clubs which are trying to recover from the financial fallout of COVID-19.
Under the proposals, advertising will be allowed only between 1:00-5:00am, with no exceptions for sports events, a total ban on gambling sponsorship of sports jerseys, kits and stadiums, and a ban on welcome bonuses. The country’s state-involved lotteries, which account for 65% of the gambling market revenue, will be exempted from the main elements of these restrictions. The proposals are expected to be finalised by the government in Autumn this year, with a 3-month implementation period foreseen for gambling companies to adapt to the rule changes.
Unregulated online gambling could be made even worse
Advertising plays an essential role in steering consumers to the gambling websites which are allowed in Spain and its absence will make citizens more susceptible to playing on gambling websites which are neither licensed, regulated, taxed or apply any of the consumer protection measures which are required for the online gambling companies who are licensed in Spain. Unregulated gambling in Spain is already a problem: 414 unregulated gambling websites were blocked by the country’s gambling authority in April-May alone this year, more than double the entire number of unregulated websites (196) blocked by the authority in 2019.
Negative financial impacts on beleaguered football clubs
The proposals will also 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. Sports betting is responsible for 56% of Spain’s online gambling market revenues and decoupling gambling advertising from sport will reduce these revenues and the taxes paid on them. Another counter effect of the proposals is that they may force some licensed gambling companies to cut the significant rights fees they pay to La Liga for live streaming live football on their websites.
Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA: “Advertising has a crucial role to play in informing consumers which websites are regulated, and which are not. 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. 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.”