Spain’s Finance Ministry to restrict online betting advertising

Government wants to ban gambling sites from publicizing odds during live sports events

Jesús Sérvulo González
An internet user checks an online gambling site.
An internet user checks an online gambling site.Carlos Rosillo (EL PAÍS)

Since the government began handing out licenses for internet gambling sites three years ago, online betting has experienced a huge boom in Spain.

The sector has grown on the back of advertising campaigns and promotions encouraging punters to place bets on sporting events, especially soccer matches.

But now the Popular Party government is looking to place limits on betting advertising in an effort to control compulsive behavior and promote responsible gambling. The proposed legislation has now been opened to public discussion and consists of 36 articles.

About 50 licenses have been granted to companies who run about 100 different online betting sites

Under the proposed regulations, certain types of online soccer betting advertisements now being broadcast on television and radio will be prohibited.

The proposed decree will ban the publicizing of betting odds during live matches: for instance, how much a certain website is offering for correctly predicting the final result or whether the visiting team’s center forward will score.

Gambling advertising will also have to be clearly distinguished from the transmission of the match itself, and it will no longer be able to feature footage of celebrities or well-known characters engaged in betting who have a particular allure for children or young people, or at least they will have to remind viewers and listeners to “wager responsibly.”

The government decided to come up with the legislation after examining how the internet gambling sector has skyrocketed since Spain legalized online betting in 2012.

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A recent report by the Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ), which falls under the Finance Ministry, shows that more than €1.85 billion was spent on online gambling during the final quarter of last year, which represents a 25.78-percent rise on the same period the year before.

In turn, betting sites spent €114.4 million on advertising and promoting their activities in 2014.

Since the government began regulating the industry and granting licenses three years ago, the number of online bets being placed has soared. According to the DGOJ, €12.164 billion in wagers has been made via the internet in the past two years. About 50 licenses have been granted to companies who run about 100 different online betting sites.

The proposed law is in line with regulations in other countries aimed at protecting citizens. France, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, Portugal, Ireland, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and the UK, which introduced its Gambling Act in 2014, all demand betting sites follow the rules of the countries in which they operate and not just those of the jurisdiction where they are physically located.

Some regions in Spain have also begun applying local laws regulating advertising within their jurisdictions.

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