Officials Torn on Laws for Gambling Ads in Spain
Spain’s gambling industry has grown exponentially over the past several years. As is always the case, problem gambling is becoming more of a serious issue here. The government is now considering a ban on all gambling ads in Spain.
Things have taken an unusual turn this week. One of the most powerful politicians in the country called for gaming advertisements to become illegal. Meanwhile, however, the country’s online gambling trade association is dismissing the call for gambling ads to be banned.
What should we expect over the next few months?
Online Gambling Surging in Spain Right Now
The Spanish government hasn’t always supported gambling. Up until somewhat recently, officials here did not regulate the online gaming market. In 2011, Spain finally passed the Spanish Gambling Act which allows foreign online gambling companies to operate legally inside the country.
Since that time, Spain’s online gambling market has grown exponentially. From 2016 to 2017, online gambling revenue here increased by 38%. The market continued to increase, despite the extremely high tax rates placed on gambling companies.
In 2018, lawmakers lowered the tax rate on internet gambling companies here to just 20% of earned revenue. It proved to be a great decision, as gambling revenue increased once again by nearly 40%. 2019 is proving to be a successful year as well.
Gambling revenue has been on a steady incline over the past four months. Some politicians are arguing that gambling addiction rates are also on an incline. Whether or not that’s true is up for debate.
Who Supports the Ban on Gambling Ads in Spain?
This week, Spanish Ombudsman Francisco Fernandez Marugan announced that he supports a blanket ban on all gambling advertisements in the country. Interestingly, this ban would exclude the National Lottery.
The Ministry of Finance and Health is considering Marugan’s request. This group is working on a framework for an “open-ended action plan” to review the current set of laws surrounding gambling ads.
Finance Minister Maria Jesus Montero supports the new gambling ad ban. She’s pushing for a similar ad ban that Spain already sets on the tobacco industry.
Spain’s Ombudsman claims that gambling ads in Spain
“should not be considered protected in the freedom of business, as it is not in products such as tobacco or addictive substances.”
He feels that Spain needs to take a more proactive approach to crack down on problem gambling. But not everyone agrees with his assessment.
Online Gambling Trade Groups Disagree With Proposed Ad Ban
The leading online gambling trade association in Spain feels that a gambling advertising ban is completely unwarranted. Mikel Lopez de Torre, the president of this association, believes politicians in Spain simply don’t understand the gambling industry. He feels the current regulations on the industry are working just as they should.
“We were very surprised by the note from the Ombudsman for a number of reasons,”
Torre recently told the media.
“It shows he (Marugan) does not know how the gambling regulatory framework operates in Spain. It also suggests he is unaware of the fact that problem gambling is already covered by the National Plan on Drugs’ epidemic studies. This actually shows that problem gambling prevalence in Spain is among the lowest in the world at 0.3%.”
Torre’s argument certainly makes sense. Unlike the UK and Ireland, which are dealing with major gambling addiction issues, Spain has reported low problem gambling rates. A ban on gambling advertisements here would punish gaming operators that already take steps to protect their players.
It seems likely that the Spanish government will accept a blanket ban on gambling ads. Lawmakers here are hoping to avoid a problem gambling issue altogether, rather than waiting to act on it as it comes later on. It may not be completely fair to the gaming companies here, yet it’s the way things are playing out.
Do you think gambling ads in Spain should be banned? Will this help to avoid a problem gambling epidemic in the country? Let us know in the comment section below!
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