In mid-March of 2023, the Council of Ministers in Spain put through and approved a new royal decree containing additional responsible gambling measures. The Royal Decree on Responsible Gambling Environments will have a goal to strengthen responsible gambling across 17 autonomous Spanish communities. While every age group will be covered, emphasis will be put on underage consumers and those between the ages of 18 and 25.
The Council deems these people are the more vulnerable demographic when it comes to promotional messages, Spain online casino bonuses, and gambling patterns. It has added that these new 30 regulations need to be applied by every operator that holds a valid gambling license. Additionally, they need to increase and improve the monitoring of risky behavior. Namely, operators must pinpoint and monitor certain players and create risk profiles.
Focus on Underage Consumers and Young Adults in Spain
The risk profiles that the Council has mentioned will be targeted based on the amount of money the player spends. The operators will have to flag a profile whose net loss is €600—or a net loss of €200 if the player is younger than 25. This net loss will be counted from a three-week period. Once those players are identified, their accounts must be flagged as “at-risk.” After their account is deemed at risk, the operator should issue a warning message and provide a monthly summary of their activity on the platform. The players who get the warning message must reply within 72 hours, or the operator will go forward with deactivating their account.
In that 72-hour period, the operator isn’t allowed to send any forms of promotional material, and the players will be declined if they try to add any further funds to their balance. Additionally, all members that have been flagged won’t be able to participate or be part of any VIP/Loyalty program that the operator is offering. All flagged accounts, especially ones that belong to younger players, will receive a message stating that gambling at an early age can result in unwanted and risky behavior.
Consequences for Non-Compliance with Spain’s New Regulations
The Council has also stated that any iGaming site and operator that doesn’t set the new regulations will be penalized. The lower sanctions could include a six-month license suspension with an additional fine of €1 million. However, operators who completely fail to comply with the new changes and are caught with more serious infractions can get a fine of up to €50 million. Not only that, but they will also get their gaming license revoked.
These new rules and regulations will come into effect six months after they are published in the official State Gazette. The six-month period will be for the easier regulations to be put in place. Regulations that are more complex and harder to incorporate will likely have a 12-month transition period.
Industry Association Concerns and Opposition in Spain
As the news broke out about the new Royal Decree, the Spanish online operators association JDigital voiced its concerns. They have come out and said that the new regulations aren’t needed because currently, Spain has one of the most regulated laws for online gambling, and problem gambling is at its lowest in the country.
JDigital added that they always agree with regulations that will help in aiding problem gambling but are content with the already-present rules and laws, emphasizing that there is no need for more. All of the current regulations that are in place are limiting the activity of operators in Spain, and JDigital is open to working with the Council and other regulators to improve the already existing legal framework.
Existing Regulations and Advertising Restrictions in Spain
JDigital isn’t happy with the new proposed regulations because back in 2020, the Council of Ministers in Spain put into place the Royal Decree on the Commercial Communications of Gambling Activities. The Council deemed that various operators which were advertising their brand on TV, radio, and social media and gave sponsorship deals were contributing to creating young problem gamblers.
With the Royal Decree, sponsorship deals with operators were banned, and TV and radio advertisements were restricted and could only run between 1 am and 5 am. YouTube ads were shortened down and limited. Plus, operators who were present on social media could only share and offer their services to their followers. Both JDigital and the media association la Asociación de Medios e Información challenged the new regulations but with no success.
The Implications and Future of Responsible Gambling in Spain
The new responsible gambling measures implemented in Spain carry significant implications for the future of the industry in the country. With Spain’s rich history of gambling and casinos, these regulations mark a pivotal moment in shaping the landscape of iGaming. While some organizations express concerns and believe that the regulations are unnecessary, others view them as a positive step toward creating a safer iGaming environment in Spain.
The focus on targeting underage consumers and young adults, along with the introduction of stricter monitoring and flagging protocols, highlights the commitment to addressing vulnerable demographics. The potential consequences for non-compliance underline the seriousness with which the government approaches responsible gambling.
As these regulations come into effect and operators adapt to the changes, the industry will likely see a shift toward greater accountability and player protection. The implications and future of responsible gambling in Spain will depend on the effectiveness of these measures in reducing problem gambling rates and promoting safer gambling practices. Continued collaboration between regulators, operators, and industry associations will be crucial in maintaining a balanced and responsible gambling landscape in Spain.
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