Gambling is a popular pastime in Spain with locals enjoying a varied diet of both casino games and sports betting. Reports covering online gambling in 2020 showed that the industry has enjoyed a nearly 14% year-on-year growth generating more than €850 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the year.
While sports betting held the lion’s share of this evaluation bringing in just over €365.14 million in GGR it was online casino gambling that showed the biggest overall growth. The online casino sector grew by more than 28% year-on-year to end 2020 with a market share of €351 million.
Gambling Revision Announcement
With the growth in the local industry, it is natural that oversight bodies want to determine if the current legislation is effective in protecting consumers, provides safeguards for youth and at-risk individuals and has retained its efficacy in the face of an ever-evolving market.
To this end, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs put out a memorandum addressing an upcoming review of the gambling regulation, Law 13/2011, of May 27. The review will address underage gambling, the abuse of bonuses, adoption of the General Registry of Gambling Access Bans (RGIAJ), programs aimed at high-value players and more.
There are several incredibly positive additions that have been proposed to the existing legislation including:
- The creation of a risky-behaviours system within the next 2 years, which will become the standard player risk management platform for all licensed operators.
- The demand that all operators offer direct links to government-sanctioned safer gambling information portals.
- The training and development of personnel whose sole focus is player safety and mental health.
It is great the government is taking responsibility for managing and setting out parameters for these responsible gambling activities as it means Spanish players will have the security of receiving equal care and support regardless of who they sign up with.
Big Brother Is Watching
While this type of review is a normal part of any maturing market there is always the risk of an over-correction in some areas. In the case of Spain’s review, they have proposed some very necessary and helpful amendments and additions to the 2011 Gambling Law.
There are however a few areas where the language of the Royal Decree makes it feel like the government is taking a Big Brother approach by creating hurdles that could cause players to opt for offshore gambling sites.
- Monitoring and reporting on how much time Spanish players spend gambling.
- Banning promotions and giveaways aimed at incentivising players to return to the casino.
- The need for players to set session length and spend limits each time they access their casino account.
One of the most concerning propositions is the implementation of special rule sets and limitations on players deemed to be of “high risk”. These limitations will include blocking their ability to make a deposit using a credit card and not being allowed to make any withdrawals once they have been flagged as risky players.
While we all agree that safer gambling is an important part of any gambling regulation these measures come uncomfortably close to robbing these people of the right to self-determination. All we can hope is that the public review of the draft proposal receives the pushback it needs to be substantially altered if not removed altogether.