Spain to impose new limits on online gambling welcome bonuses


spain-new-limits-online-gambling-welcome-bonus-offersSpain’s online gambling operators are facing new limits on bonus offers to customers, while problem gamblers are getting new ways to block themselves from acquiring money with which to gamble.

On Monday, Spain’s Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzón unveiled plans for new restrictions on the country’s online gambling operators using promotional campaigns that feature “economic bonuses” as a means of acquiring new customers and retaining existing customers. Bonus offers made via operators’ own web pages would be capped at €100.

Garzón (pictured) said the “commercial strategy” of offering incentives to customers had “proven to be controversial” because, in addition to “expanding the number of users and amounts played,” also “attracts minors and people with health problems who need to stop gambling.”

Garzón said the new restrictions would be incorporated into the Royal Decree Project, the package of new rules regarding online gambling operators’ marketing communications. The government has already unveiled elements of this Decree, including restricting online gambling advertising to a four-hour window starting at 1am.

Jdigital, the Spanish online gambling sector’s lobby group, issued a statement in response to Garzón’s announcement noting that this ship had essentially already sailed. Last month, Jdigital members began imposing their new voluntary advertising code, which limits welcome bonus offers to a maximum €200, while these offers can only be included in ads that fall outside kid-friendly broadcast hours.

Regardless, Monday also saw the government announce EFICAZ, a new program aimed at preventing problem gamblers from obtaining alternative online financing to fund their wagering activity. Essentially, it’s a self-exclusion list from online credit sources that have agreed to participate in the program.

It’s worth noting that Spain has one of the lowest problem gambling rates in Europe, with recent surveys pegging the figure at only around 0.4%. Spain’s beleaguered online gambling sector also got a recent show of support from Javier Molinera, who heads up the Gambling and Betting Control Service of the National Police. Molinera told local media outlet EFE that, contrary to popular conception, “police do not see any major social problems” caused by gambling.

Molinera added that it was a “myth” that online gambling was a sector devoid of oversight, and that it was easier for minors to access land-based gambling options than online operators. Molinera added that gambling operators had no interest in allowing minors to access their products due to the disparity between the significant financial penalties they face in exchange for collecting some 14-year-old’s pocket money.