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The Pain in Spain

By - 20 June 2022

Participating in the Market Update debate at the IAGA Summit, Santiago Asensi of Asensi Abogados, highlights the current issues facing the Spanish gaming market, including the advertising ban and increased responsible gambling measures that could severely affect the future of the market in Spain.

Santiago, which market are you focusing upon at the IAGA Summit in June?

I am highlighting the developments taking place in the Spanish market, specially those concerning the recent approval and entry into force of the new regulation on gambling advertising and the upcoming new regulation on Responsible Gambling.

Why are you bringing these to the attention of the IAGA audience?

In the first place, in relation to the Decree on gambling advertising which entered fully into force in September 2021 – becoming one of the most restrictive regimes from those in the EU, it is essential to indicate that the regulation has been challenged by influential stakeholders in Spain (i.e. Spanish Association of online gambling, Spanish Media Association and the Football League).

The definitive ruling in relation to the three appeals filed is expected to be issued by the Supreme Court within the next weeks, precisely by the date of the IAGA conference in Boston, being this milestone essential and expected by the sector.

In the second place, in relation to the draft Decree on responsible gambling, the regulation should have been approved in March 2022, entering into force on July 1, 2022, excepting for three provisions whose entry into force was foreseen for July 1, 2023.

Due to a number of circumstances, especially the delay caused by the Spanish Data Protection Agency that has to review certain articles of the upcoming regulation, the legislative process has been deferred and the regulation is now expected to be approved by the end of September/October 2022, entering into force some months after.

How impactful are the changes taking places in these markets?

The above developments are currently the hot topics in the Spanish market and depending on their progress and outcome, these might imply significant changes in the industry. As previously mentioned, the current advertising regime in Spain is one of the most restrictive from those in the EU jurisdictions.

Should the ruling from the Supreme Court be positive for the industry, either because the decree is overruled or some restrictions are lifted, the impact would be indeed significant for the market since as of today, TV advertising is restricted from 1 to 5am, no sponsorship on sports equipment is allowed and welcome bonuses are prohibited, among other restrictions currently in place.

On the other hand, should the Decree on responsible gambling be approved in September/October 2022, this new regulation will imply new technical implementations for the operators, new mandatory requirements and more restrictions and obstacles that, in my opinion, will impede a comfortable experience for the player and will prevent a healthy development and improvement of the Spanish market.

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