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Spain – Spain outlines new restrictions for gaming advertising

By - 18 February 2018

The Spanish government has announced plans to limit the advertising of online gambling in order to protect minors.

The Minister of Health, Dolors Montserrat is negotiating the details of a Royal Decree alongside the Treasury which will be approved this year, as according to government statistics more than 130,000 minors admitted that they have gambled online. The government plans to limit the advertising of online games where minors are active on the internet according to sources from the Ministry of Health.

The Royal Decree, currently in the public information phase, will be approved this year. The objective of the decree is to ensure that these companies do not sponsor activities carried out by minors. According to a survey carried out by the ministry of health 9.8 per cent of minors interviewed (131,580) said that they had gambled online in the last year. However, Francisco de Asís Babín delegate of the National Plan on Drugs emphasised that this did not mean that they were addicted to gambling. However, underage gambling is an indicator of problem gambling in later life. Among adults currently addicted to gambling (0.9 per cent of the population), 44.8 per cent had taken part in underage gambling, according to data from the Ministry of Health.

The new plans are part of a larger package of measures which seek to limit the addiction of minors to the internet within the National Drug and Addiction Strategy, which has been approved by the Council of Ministers. This document is valid for eight years and will be drawn up again every four years.

In addition, the government is seeking to impose strong restrictions on online gaming advertising, raffles and lotteries. New regulations, which were put forward in December, would prevent the advertising of gambling in hours reserved for children, which last from eight to nine in the morning and from five to eight in the afternoon, and limits the promotion of bets during live television or radio broadcasts. This is the second draft published by the Ministry of Finance, as there has been a proliferation of gaming adverting since the online market was opened up five years ago. In 2015, the Ministry tried to impose stronger limits on online game advertising but withdrew the project due to criticism from the sector and lack of agreement with other political groups.

The new regulations now on the table could have high reaching consequences for the industry, as it would also prohibit the appearance in advertisements of real or fictional personalities, which have an appeal to minors. As well as the weekday restrictions, gaming companies would also be forbidden from advertising between nine and twelve in the morning on holidays and weekends.

Advertising of gaming in Spain has become an increasingly controversial issue of late. In October 2017, The Audiovisual Council of Andalusia (CAA) called for new laws in Spain, which would regulate the advertising of gambling in order to protect minors, safeguard the rights of vulnerable groups of people and help to preventing gambling addiction. According to the CAA, 36 per cent of TV commercials are broadcast during child protection hours.

It is the second time in less than three years that the CAA called for change and highlighted the need for stricter control over advertising for the gaming industry. The body agreed to make the request for new laws after a report, prepared by its technical staff, showed that the Code of Conduct on commercial communications for gaming adopted by the sector in June 2012, were frequently not being complied with.

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