Earlier this week, the Council of Ministers in Spain approved a Royal Decree covering gambling advertising. The decision creates a huge change regarding how gambling companies are connected to professional sports as well as what they can provide to gamblers. With the legislative change, commercials are restricted on television, radio, and online. Gambling operators are no longer able to sponsor sports teams and can only offer bonuses to players who have deposited three times or more.
The new rules listed in the Royal Decree will take effect in a staggered manner. One reason is that many football teams in Spain already have sponsorship deals with gambling companies. These deals are grandfathered into the current season. New deals cannot be signed, and existing deals must not be renewed. For marketing campaigns featuring famous people or athletes must be cut after April 1, 2021.
For gambling operators, any contracts for online advertising via third parties can continue through May 1, 2021. After that date, operators can only promote services from their gambling sites. Promos can be featured at social media sites, but only via platforms where there are age filters, so minors will not see the content.
Operators who do not follow the new guidelines will face fines and possible suspension of their gaming license. Fines start at €100k and go as high as €1m.
State-Run Lotteries Not Affected
After the announcement was made regarding the Royal Decree by the Council, Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzón spoke to the media. Garzón commented that the new rules were put in place due to an increase in gambling marketing and the ads having the ability to attract more players during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Marketing spending did increase in 2019 and into this year but started to drop during the second quarter of this year. Reports show that the big spenders on marketing in 2019 were SELAE and ONCE lotteries, which are state-owned. They are not affected by the new rules.
Garzón commented to the media that it would not make sense to place the same restrictions on state lotteries because they are of a different nature than the online casino and betting operators. According to Garzón, it is the gambling laws of Spain and not the Decree that places the distinction between the lotteries and the other sectors.