New Spanish Gambling Regulations Released for Public Comment
Spain’s gambling regulator has launched a public consultation into new marketing and responsible gambling regulations.
Gambling regulator La Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) published the Draft Royal Decree on Commercial Communications for Gambling activities on February 24, with public responses due to by March 16.
The new regulations are designed to strengthen the 2011 law under which Spain’s regulated online gaming market launched in 2012, since when gambling advertising has increased unabated to the point of sparking a public backlash.
The draft royal decree states that parliamentarians share the public’s concern and aim to balance the commercial interests of operators with adequate protections for consumers, particularly young people.
The 138-page document sets new responsible gambling requirements for operators and also introduces new rules for advertising, promotions and sponsorship.
The new marketing regulations apply to gambling operators and their affiliates and prohibit them from advertising using brands, trademarks or commercial images they do not own, as well as prohibiting any reference to another operator’s games or intellectual property without authorisation.
All advertising must be truthful and socially responsible so as not to promote excessive gambling, and the use of imagery such as luxury products or money will be considered a breach of the social responsibility requirement. Ads that encourage the viewer to share the message of the ad with others will also be deemed irresponsible.
In addition to general rules regarding responsible gambling messaging and preventing children from being exposed to gambling advertising, the draft royal decree sets specific rules by gambling activity and medium.
Sponsorship agreements involving naming rights to sporting venues will be prohibited, as will any naming rights related to sports teams or any other entity outside the betting and gaming sector. Sponsorship of well-known figures and their use in marketing is also prohibited.
No promotional offers will be allowed for new customers above €100 in value, with the draft also giving the regulator authority to set limits on the value of promotions to existing customers.
Bonuses must be shown separately from deposited funds in a player’s account and the bonus rules should not prevent players from withdrawing deposited funds, while loyalty bonuses can only be offered without requiring players to complete a number of bets or games for the bonus to be released.
Players who have increased their deposit limit must be excluded from promotions for a period of 30 days after the increase, and no promotions may be sent to players who have closed their account.
Free games can only be offered to registered players who are logged in and must accurately replicate the chances of winning compared to the real-money version of the game so as not to give players a false impression.
Radio and television advertising will only be allowed between 1am and 5am, although live sports broadcasts between 8pm and 5am may include ads which do not reference promotions or bonuses of any kind; calls to action such as ‘bet now’; or early cash-out or odds.
Operators must not use well-known characters in ads, real or fictional, with exceptions for characters made famous by the ad and narrators of live broadcasts, and all commercial communications must be immediately identifiable as such.
The advertising rules also set exemptions for pari-mutuel betting, instant lotteries and bingo, which may be advertised from 10pm to 6am in programming rated 18+.
The restrictions do not apply to lottery draw games, which may be advertised freely except for before, during and after programming primarily aimed at children.
Gambling promotions on Twitter and other social networks will also be restricted, with every post from an operator’s official account deemed to be a commercial communication, excluding graphical representations or retransmission of a sporting event.
Every fourth post must be a responsible gambling message and operators must make use of any tools available from social networks to prevent minors from following their accounts.
The draft decree also sets out the requirements for a comprehensive social responsibility policy, including problem gambling prevention mechanisms, self-exclusion and self-prohibition, and compliance.
The Draft Royal Decree on Commercial Communications for Gambling Activities is scheduled to come into force on July 1, 2020.
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