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Spanish Regulator Backs Proposed Gambling Advertising Code Changes

Proposed changes to a voluntary gambling ads code received endorsement by the Spanish gambling regulator last week. The amendments, promoted by Spanish online gambling trade association Jdigital, are set to take effect in mid-January and to be adopted by locally licensed gambling operators.

At a meeting on November 14, the Joint Monitoring Committee on the code of conduct on gambling advertising agreed to the proposed changes in the way gambling products should be advertised on the territory of Spain.

The committee is part of the Spanish gambling regulator – Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ), and is tasked with overseeing how gaming and sports betting services are promoted and whether DGOJ-licensed operators are fully compliant with existing rules and codes.

Following last week’s meeting, the Joint Monitoring Committee said that the implementation of changes in Spain’s voluntary gambling advertising code represents reinforcement of the current advertising standards within the industry outlined in the Code of Conduct.

As proposed by Jdigital, the updated voluntary measures will apply to TV, radio, and digital advertising.

DGOJ’s Joint Monitoring Committee said last week that the proposed changes were focused on three main areas – truthfulness of gambling ads, promotion of responsible gambling, and protection of minors.

The Proposed Changes

The proposed amendments to the voluntary advertising code would take effect on January 15, 2020. The changes, when enforced, will limit welcome bonus offers in ads to a maximum of €200.

In addition, under the new rules, gambling ads should not feature “active athletes” promoting gaming and betting products. People aged under 25 would also not be allowed to participate in gambling ads.

Advertising campaigns should not be endorsed by celebrities who participate in children-oriented programs or whose work is focused on minors’ well-being.

All ads across all advertising verticals will have to feature a prominent warning message that should encourage people to gamble responsibly. The warning message should also inform the audiences that gambling under the age of 18 is prohibited in Spain. In the case of TV adverts, the message can either be displayed in a band at the bottom of the screen and run throughout an ad, or be displayed as a full-screen warning at the end of an ad.

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The amended voluntary advertising code will be enforced by operators licensed by DGOJ and represented by Jdigital regardless of the long-awaited decision of the Spanish government whether it would introduce a blanked ban on all forms of gambling advertising.

It was late last year when Spanish lawmakers first indicated that such a highly restrictive regime could be implemented. Earlier this year, Spain’s acting ombudsman, Francisco Fernández Marugán, urged the government to take the “toughest stance on gambling advertising” and introduce a full ban on ads promoting gambling products across all media platforms.

In August, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) said that it supported the ombudsman’s recommendations and that it would draft a Royal Decree that would outline a blanket ban on gambling ads.

As it could be expected, the announcement was met with mixed reactions, with opponents warning that banning gambling advertisements would provide black market operators with an important weapon in the incessant battle for clients. It is yet to be seen whether the government will indeed implement a more restrictive ad regime or would take into consideration industry stakeholders’ warnings that such a move would only spell more trouble.

Source: Propuesta de modificación del Código de Conducta sobre Comunicaciones Comerciales de las Actividades de Juego

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