Portugal’s Assembly of the Republic kicked off October with a victorious debate on four bills relating to tighter restrictions on advertising gambling. Deputies from Left Bloc, PCP, PAN and the non-registered deputy Cristina Rodrigues propose operators may only advertise from 10:30 PM through midnight, until 7:00 AM.
The Portuguese Gambling Regulatory Authority (SRIJ2) will have a more certain outcome by the end of 2021, as the next step of the process requires that the matter waits for 60 days at the Committee on Economy, Innovation, Works, Public, and Housing.
Strength in Unity
Former Deputy of the Assembly, Cristina Rodrigues, and three Portuguese political parties each submitted bills which address the same thing. They want the country to ban daytime advertisements relating to gambling, from 7:00 AM to 10:30 PM.
One bill suggests the complete ban of marketing for instant lotteries, specifically scratch cards. The Deputies unanimously concluded that it is for the sake of public health and is a preventative measure.
Isabel Pires, Left Bloc Deputy, said the bill will “give the force of law to what has been understood as only a recommendation in the sector’s self-regulation agreement.”
The restrictions, according to Left Bloc, should extend to the online gambling sector, which according to Pires, entails increased risks, and which had clear growth driven by the recent Coronavirus pandemic.
According to statistics, Portugal has the highest number of instant lottery scratch card purchases, per capita. The country endeavours to minimise risk to its people, especially relating to gambling addiction. With this end in mind, non-attached deputy Cristina Rodrigues says this is a necessary investment to curb gambling addiction.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
The likelihood of the advertising ban to move forward is high and Portugal is not the first country to tighten controls in this manner. In The Netherlands, Kansspelautoriteit signed an agreement with the county’s media watchdog. This will see the regulating body supervise advertisements with the help of the watchdog. Sweden’s Ministry of Finance proposes that it needs to adopt “special moderation” protocols for gambling advertising, similar to that of alcohol ads.
The Bills proposed in Portugal mention that gambling and alcohol pose the same risks and they should manage marketing across the two industries accordingly.
Isabel Pires commented on the changes:
“We are not innovating, we are using methods that have been proven to help address the problem, and advertising is central to disincentives to demand this type of product.”
The political parties suggest that gambling adverts, and scratch card packaging, should display the same warnings that tobacco packaging does, to warn users of the potential harm and dependency.
The Responsible Thing to Do
Current gambling legislation in Portugal states operators must apply measures which encourage responsible gambling and provide players with information that fosters moderate, non-compulsive, and responsible attitudes toward gaming.
As current regulation states that online gambling activities need to adhere to responsible gambling initiatives, online advertising will also be subject to ad bans. In its Online Gambling and Betting Legal Regime (OLR), the Portuguese regulator stipulates their intention to eliminate addictive behaviour through propositions of preventive and deterrent measures.
Operators and the SRIJ, itself, provide players with a self-exclusion tool, whereby a player may opt to be blocked from all operators in the licensed network. With the proposed advertising bills, consumers will be able to self-exclude on marketing as well.