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Spanish trade body takes aim at ‘unjustified’ ad crackdown

| By iGB Editorial Team
CeJuego chief says low problem gambling rates show new proposals are unnecessary

Spain’s leading gaming trade group has described plans to clamp down on advertising as “unjustified” after citing low levels of problem gambling in the country.

Speaking to iGamingBusiness.com, CeJuego’s director general Alejandro Landaluce said the Government’s proposed changes reported last week “reflect a lack of knowledge about the sector”.

Under the Budget presented last week, the Government outlined plans to introduce restrictions similar to those placed on tobacco. In 2005, Spain introduced regulations that prohibit the sponsorship of tobacco products, as well as all kinds of advertising and promotion in the media, with a handful of exceptions.

The Budget claims such measures are necessary because sports broadcasts are “flooded with ads that offer live betting,” which is “generating serious addiction problems.” Statistics from the DGOJ regulator show that gambling firms’ marketing spend in H1 2018 grew by more than 50% year-on-year to around €80m.

However, Landaluce – whose group represents the likes of Cirsa, Codere and R. Franco – said Spain is “one of the countries with the lowest rate of problem gambling in the world”, with a rate of just 0.3%. He added that some 18% of young Spaniards are addicted to the internet while 7% of the adult population is “addicted to compulsive shopping”.

He said: “We believe that there is an unjustified social alarm and it is putting the sector in a position that it does not belong. Seventy-five per cent of the population in Spain says playing and the vast majority (96.5%), according to the latest official study of the DGOJ, enjoy naturally, without any difficulty.

“We ask that opinions and decisions made on the sector are based on facts, figures and data, avoiding the use of stereotypes that offer the public a distorted and unrealistic image of the sector.

“From CeJuego, we will continue with the work we have developed since we started our journey five years ago. We are at the disposal of the authorities, political parties and social representatives to explain the reality of Spain’s gambling sector.”

Landaluce said it is not yet possible to know what effect any clampdown could have on the industry in Spain, but he highlighted its importance. He said gambling contributes 2.3% of gross domestic product and generates more than 120,000 direct and indirect jobs, contributing an annual average of €1bn to public coffers.

He said any changes must be imposed on both the public and private sector.

“We believe in a regulated leisure, rather than prohibition,” he told iGamingBusiness.com. “In this regard, we consider it important that there is a regulation that incorporates clear boundaries and is the same for all industry players, whether public or private.

“We would like to stress the importance that regulators know, in depth, the reality of this sector. We are proud that we all work, collaborate and enjoy it, offering society a leisure activity that is controlled, legal and legitimate.”

In July, Italy introduced a blanket ban on all forms of gambling advertising, much to the dismay of various industry groups such as the European Gaming and Betting Association. The rules are due to come into effect from January 1.

LeoVegas has also hit out at the plans, with Niklas Lindahl, country manager for the company in Italy, recently telling iGamingBusiness.com that the new system is “completely wrong”.

However, GVC recently announced its support for a reduction in betting advertising, with chief executive Kenneth Alexander saying the company has a “commitment to take tangible action to understand and reduce the impact of problem gambling”.

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