“The game is about to start. But first, we are going to bet. Barça wins, you pay 1.30 to 1. And Messi scores 2.5 to 1.” Announcements like this truffle radio broadcasts of Spanish league football matches every weekend and are also common on television. But soon they will stop. The new Ministry of Consumer Affairs is already working on a royal decree that will limit radio and television advertising on gambling and online betting to the time slot in the morning, that is, between one and five. “It is a framework where there was no control and there is a need for regulation, because there is a social problem with this issue, especially with particularly vulnerable groups,” explain sources in the department led by Alberto Garzón. The radio employers’ association defends that it is a “disproportionate” measure, while television channels it as “drastic”.
The minister will begin this Thursday a round of meetings with the agents of the sector to try to achieve the maximum possible consensus. Garzón will transfer this first measure to the economic and social agents of the gaming sector. His first meeting will be with agents of the Advisory Council for Responsible Gaming (CAJR), and the meetings will last over the next few weeks. The department highlights that these measures were included in the government agreement between PSOE and Unidas Podemos. “There are red lines that cannot be passed as protection for minors,” they point out.
According to a study by the General Directorate of Gambling, now dependent on Consumption, in Spain there are some 400,000 addicts. There is no data on how many of them are minors, since they are prohibited from playing. Juan Lamas, technical director of the Spanish Federation of Rehabilitated Gambling Players (FEJAR), points out that since the federation – which in 2018 treated 18,000 gamblers throughout Spain – they have evidence that 25% of minors acknowledge that they access games of chance. “A part of them will probably end up developing a pathological situation.”
The Consumer initiative is part of a broader decree that will regulate online game advertising in the face of growing social sensitivity on the subject. In fact, the consumer organization Facua has published this Wednesday a survey of 11,000 Internet users in which 87% of them ask to completely ban the advertising of casinos and betting houses. The Government will embody this idea through a royal decree to develop articles 7 and 8 of the Gambling Regulation Law of 2011. Garzón himself assured in an interview in La Sexta that the money allocated to these announcements has increased exponentially. in recent years up to 300 million euros.
Other measures included in the text will be advanced in the coming weeks, which have not yet been finalized. On the table are other topics such as advertising these companies on websites, sponsorship of soccer teams and other sports, as well as the possibility of restricting the hours of the betting rooms.
For now, the limitation of online game advertising will focus on television and radio, so the Ministry of Consumer Affairs also plans to meet with the media sector. This type of advertising is very common in sports broadcasts of all general radio stations. However, sources of the Spanish Association of Commercial Radio Broadcasting (AERC), which brings together the main stations, consider that this is a “disproportionate” measure, since according to the General Media Study (EGM), the average age of the Radio listener is 52 years old, while the consumption of this medium by minors is below 2%.
“This decision to restrict radio advertising is an absolutely voluntarist decision, because it achieves nothing. The presence of minors on spoken radio is irrelevant and the same is true of sports programs,” they say from AERC. “It is an absurd and disproportionate decision, the majority of young people are not on spoken radio, nor on sports programs,” they add. In addition, they show their surprise at the announcement given that the stations themselves were talking to the ministry about how to regulate themselves.
In the same sense they are pronounced from the Open Commercial Television Union (UTECA), the television association. “It is a very drastic, useless measure that will not meet the objective pursued. There should be intermediate steps,” explain UTECA sources. “On television, we already have a code of conduct and we are introducing self-regulation mechanisms: we have a special protection schedule for children, we launch responsible gaming messages, we remember the prohibition on children under 18 playing and we oblige ourselves to announce the betting houses are not carried out by minors of 25 years “, they add. The employers assure that they will try to defend this position in their meeting with the minister, who will receive them this Thursday. Meanwhile, sources from Mediaset, the Telecinco audiovisual group, which is not part of UTECA, declined to comment.
UK banned gambling with credit cards
Spain is not the only country that plans to take action against internet gambling. Last January the British Government announced that on April 14 the country will ban the use of credit cards to gamble, also online, according to the National Gaming Commission (CNJ). From then on, you can only play with debit cards and cash deposits (except for the national lottery).