As the Spanish Market Grows, the Government Invests in More Protection

Published September 28, 2018 by Lee R

As the Spanish Market Grows, the Government Invests in More Protection

Gambling is as addictive as drugs, and the Spanish government is committed to protecting as well as expanding.

As the gambling market in Spain expands, the risks grow commensurately.

The Addiction Label 

At this point, problem gambling has been likened to drug addiction by Spain’s Council of Ministers. The Council is not founding the opinion but acknowledging tacit assent with the findings of an American Psychiatric Association Report labeling problem gambling as “drug addiction without substance.”

Adapting Programming

To this end, Spain’s Ministry of Health now endorses this reclassification in the Drug Support Council’s “Action Plan on Addictions 2018-2020” mandate, which advises health and social organizations on combatting addiction. 

The Addiction Threat in Spain

The addiction problem in Spain is the greater concern here, with Spain among the highest rates of drug use in Europe. A report provided in 2015 from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) revealed that one third of Spanish adults had tried an illicit substance, with 3.4 % of adults having taken designer drugs in pursuit of effects previously common to cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy.

This predilection towards addiction carries over into gambling, according to a new report from El Pais indicating that between 2% and 3% of the population suffers from a gambling related problem.  Concerns persist that the problem can grow without more regulation, also constituting an acknowledgement of tacit acceptance of gambling as here to stay, with the next step being to fix regulation. 

Proactive Efforts

Moving forward, a new National Drug Strategy for the period up to 2024 is set to add gambling to its planning for addiction prevention, in addition to illicit drugs and addictive substances like alcohol.

An estimated €1 billion has been committed by the government to fund the project, of which some 25% with roughly contributed proceeds confiscated from drug trafficking.

Clear Parameters

These changes seem to be the only practical solution, because the current environment indicates that gambling in Spain is not going anywhere and will actually continue to grow and provide temptation to the vulnerable.

Market Growth      

The gambling boom in the country was further confirmed by Q2 figures showing a staggering 40.1% surge in online gambling revenues to €167.2 million.

This growth was spearheaded by sports betting revenue’s 46.7% rise to €87.6 million and online casino’s 36.9% jump to €56.5 million. Poker also contributed to this growth with a robust 34.8% year-on-year improvement to €19.5 million.

Market growth will be further encouraged by the government’s slashing of online gambling taxes from 25% to 20% in June.


Amid the realities of a growing market, the only way forward is for the Spanish government to effectively support protection of its addiction-vulnerable population. With most governments previously resisting regulation to protect its population, Spain’s efforts in an expanding market will provide crucial data and evidence about ways to protect populations across other regulating jurisdictions moving forward.

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