The digital gambling association Asociația de jocuri de noroc digitale

The digital gambling association Jdigital has criticised Spain’s proposed restrictions on gambling promotion and advertising.

Jdigital, the Spanish digital gambling association, has heavily criticised the proposed restrictions that the Spanish government hopes to introduce in October after its recent approval by the European Commission.

As well as restricting television and radio advertising to between the hours of 1am and 5am, Spain’s proposed restrictions on gambling promotion include a ban on bonuses and sports sponsorship for gambling operators.

Jdigital said the restrictions were “disproportionate and unjustified”, and argued that the regulations are “ideological” with no basis in data.

The association said there were no studies illustrating that gambling was currently a public health problem in Spain, with gambling addiction remaining stable at 0.3 – 0.5 per cent. 

It also argued that there had been a rise in illegal gambling during the Covid-19 pandemic that could be exacerbated by restrictions on the promotion of legal offerings.

It noted that authorities had requested for the closure of 414 unlicensed domains in April and May, twice the number of websites that would face action in a normal year, and said that advertising was an important way to allow consumers to differentiate licensed from unlicensed operators. 

It said: “It cannot be concluded that there is a public health problem with gambling in Spain and so the regulation of commercial communications in the sector should not be compared to that of products such as tobacco or spirits, in which the addiction rates account for 34 per cent and 5.1 per cent respectively.”

The association also criticised the different treatment received by state gambling operators such as ONCE and SELAE compared to private operators, noting that the EC recommends public and private gambling operators receive the same treatment.

It said: “We are bewildered at the fact that just one day after the draft Royal Decree was submitted to the EC, the Spanish National Lottery closed a sponsorship deal with two sports federations, an activity that has been prohibited for private operators.”

The association also said the restrictions would hit sports clubs and media, and would create and “insurmountable barrier” to new operators wanting to enter the market.