Spain’s gambling operators brace for new advertising restrictions


spain-gambling-advertising-restrictionsThe gambling point man for Spain’s new government will meet with the head of the local gaming industry association this week to discuss plans for new advertising restrictions.

On Monday, Spanish media reported that Alberto Garzón, Minister of Consumer Affairs in Spain’s new government, would meet later this week with the head of Consejo Empresarial del Juego (CeJuego), which represents Spain’s private gambling operators, to discuss the government’s plans to rein in gambling ads on radio, TV and online.

Garzón (pictured) will reportedly focus on three elements of the new advertising rules, including a blanket ban on gambling ads during kid-friendly hours (likely 6am-10pm), a requirement for sports betting ads to run only during periods of relativity (say, a football match), and a hard cap on the number of gambling ads that can appear in any single break in the action.

Spain’s online gambling operators have already agreed to a new voluntary code of restraint for promoting their products. The code, which kicked in last month, was intended to fend off threats by the previous government to impose the same harsh restrictions on gambling advertising as those imposed on tobacco products.

It will be interesting to see whether CeJuego general director Alejandro Landaluce will raise the issue of Spain’s state-run lotteries SELAE and ONCE, which reportedly won’t be subject to the new restrictions. Landaluce has previously expressed a desire for the government to regulate gambling “without making distinctions” between private and state-run operators.

A new report shows that it’s the state-run lotteries that have flooded the airwaves with promotional come-ons in recent years. The Andalusian Audiovisual Council (CAA) said it had detected 9,134 gambling and betting ads between November 10 and December 10, 2019, representing 2.4% of total ads during this period, up from 2% in a similar study in 2017.

Casino, poker and online bingo ads rose from 2,874 (0.84%) in 2017 to 3,695 (0.96%) last year while sports betting ads decreased from 1,645 (0.48%) in 2017 to 1,605 (0.42%) in 2019.

But the state-run SELAE lottery’s ads rose by nearly 100 to 1,291 (0.34%) over the two periods while the state-run ONCE lottery ad count more than doubled from 1,152 (0.34%) in 2017 to 2,553 (0.67%).

The CAA further noted that 45% of these ads appeared during the kid-friendly window, something that private operators are already pledged to avoid. So kids are being exposed to countless promos for SELAE and ONCE products, even though they’re not allowed to purchase these products. (That doesn’t stop them from winning the odd lottery jackpot, though.)

Given these numbers, the fact that Spain’s lottery operators may be exempt from the government’s new restrictions certainly appears to be a case of the government putting its thumb on the scale to ensure its revenue isn’t impacted. It remains to be seen whether this desire for revenue will trump its stated desire to protect children.