Spain Passes Gambling Advertisement Ban Based on Tobacco Laws
The Spanish government plans to restrict gambling advertisements with a set of new regulations. The new rules for gaming ads are expected to be part of the Spain’s 2019 budget.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, the leader of the Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), supports the new regulations. Reports suggests that Sanchez has gained the support of the Podemos (“We Can”), a left-wing populist party, to pass the new law.
A source inside the government told Spanish media that the gambling law is going to be modeled after a 2005 ban on advertisements for tobacco products. Since 2005, tobacco companies cannot sponsor Spanish sports franchises or advertise their products in the Spanish media.
The spokesman was quoted saying the laws will be “similar to that of tobacco products”.
Spanish Gaming Applications Coming to an End
The window to apply for a gaming license closes on December 17, 2018. Over the past 2 years, Spain has taken steps to create a more robust regulatory framework for legal gambling in the country. Officials have not said when a new window for applications would take place.
Whether the new restrictions will cause international gaming operators to pull back their applications is unknown. If companies cannot advertise properly in a brand new market, some might calculate they cannot gain the traction which would be needed to make the investment worth their while. It is the classic argument between pro-business versus pro-consumer policies.
DGOJ: Poker Liquidity Deal
Spain passed pro-gambling legislation in 2011, but the process has picked up momentum over the years. The licensing of online poker rooms, sports betting sites, and casino sites are a key part of the process. A poker compact to share player liquidity with France, Italy, and Portugal was signed over 16 months ago.
The poker liquidity sharing agreement wound its way through the Spanish parliament for some time. The General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling Activities (Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego – the “DGOJ”) was signed into law on December 29, 2017.
The DGOJ was published on January 15, 2018, which made the 4-nation poker deal official. Spain integrated with France, Italy, and Portugal in February 2018. The resulting poker community consists of over 180 million potential players. Since then, Spanish officials have worked to tighten their gambling regulations.
Italian Gambling Ad Ban
Restrictions on gambling advertisements are a trend in Europe at the moment. Italy passed similar restrictions back in the summer of 2018, prompting Association football clubs in the Serie A league to complain about a drop in revenues. Italian football clubs claimed they would lose a combined $200,000,000 a year and have to make serious cuts to their player development systems.
Ireland’s President Michael Higgins said he would consider a total ban on gambling advertisements for Irish sporting events and broadcasts. Since Higgins faced a re-election campaign that culminated on October 26, many wondered whether the proposed gaming laws were part of his electioneering.
Higgins was reelected for a 7-year term on Oct. 26, meaning an Irish gambling advertisement ban might still be on the docket.
PSOE and Podemos Have the Votes
The regulations against Spanish gaming companies is a sign that progressive laws will dominate the industry for some time. It is a time of left-wing ascendance in Madrid, but voices on the right are being taken more seriously. Vox, a right-wing party founded in 2014, gained fivefold in support over the course of the past year, due to issues like Catalan independence and immigration concerns.
Santiago Abascal, a 42-year old Basque, filled a Madrid sports stadium last month, which raised eyebrows among those who follow Spanish politics. Celeste-Tel claims Vox has only a 1% share of the electorate, though even that number is five times the support Vox had in a January poll. Metroscopia, another Spanish pollster, claims Vox has 5% voter support — or about 1 million voters.
Abascal has not stated his opinion on the gambling advertisement law. Many on the right prefer fewer regulations on commercial activities, though Vox calls for strong central government. Whatever the case, it appears that PSOE and Podemos have the votes between them to pass the measure.