The Commission on Child and Adolescent Rights of the Chamber of Deputies of Spain has unanimously approved a non-legislative motion that urges the Government to put in place measures to protect minors such as stricter controls over the advertising of bookmakers when it comes to online gambling.
The initiative presented by the People’s Party (PP) had the backing of 33 deputies present in the Commission. The motion proposes that the Executive effectively regulates the advertising conditions of online bookmakers, with special attention to schedules and airtime specifically aimed at minors.
According to news portal Servimedia, the motion urges that the government establish greater controls over online betting in order to prevent the registration and participation of underage users, and to promote awareness and gambling addiction prevention campaigns, especially in educational facilities, in order to raise awareness amongst families, children and adolescents when it comes to the potential dangers of online gambling.
Raquel Alonso from The People’s Party (PP) defended the initiative stating that, according to The Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ), 36 per cent of players with a gambling problem in Spain started when they were minors and that the Responsible Gaming Advisory Board has emphasized that close to the half of young people have gambled.
“We must not forget that gaming, both in its online and offline forms, is prohibited for minors, but that, in view of the figures, this does not prevent them from gaining access,” Alonso said.
The new proposal is the latest in a number of moves aimed at tightening control over gambling advertising. Carlota Merchán, of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) said that her group was “puzzled” that the PP would take the bill the Commission as the topic has already been approved in the Joint Commission for the Study of the Drug Problem and that the General Directorate is already “working” in this sense on a decree when it comes to the commercial activities of online gaming that will soon be released.
Virginia Millán, from the Citizens party also said that this issue had been discussed before in Congress but added that there has been a recent growth in “the addictions associated with online gambling and sports betting.”
In July, The Compromís Party in Spain put forward a non-legislative motion in the Congress of Deputies to urge the government of Spain to either prohibit or restrict the advertising of gambling in the media. The motion comes in parallel to a similar move by the Federation of Consumers in Action (FACUA) to prohibit advertising linked to online betting.
Member of the Compromís Party Joan Baldoví formalised the proposal so that it would be analysed in the Joint Commission for the Study of the Drug Problem and the proposal urges the government to develop “legislation that prioritises the limitation of access and incorporates a message of prevention” in order to prevent an increase in gambling addiction.
The party argues that universal access to new technologies has facilitated the spread of online gambling and is especially dangerous to the “the youngest sector of the population, accustomed to the use of new technologies since childhood.” Crucially the party also alludes to Italian’s blanket ban on advertising. The Italian Senate voted by a narrow majority on August 6 to ban gambling advertising with heavy penalties for non-compliance.