Government Ad Restrictions Increasing in Spain: Onus on Operators to Make It Work

Published November 20, 2020 by Lee R

Government Ad Restrictions Increasing in Spain: Onus on Operators to Make It Work

As a response to new data, the latest guidelines for protecting youth in Spain appear the government's apolitical response to new data.

Spain's ad restrictions to protect youth are officially in effect, with opposition immediately arising from operator trade groups.

Jdigital's Resistance

On November 3, Spain’s Royal Decree on the Commercial Communications of Gambling Activities came into force. Industry association Jdigital immediately called these new guidelines having the potential for “dire consequences” for player protection.

Retroactive Deals

Current deals will be permitted to remain in effect until the conclusion of the current Spanish football season, according to a communication from Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzón to clubs last week.

New Components

Other components of the ban include TV and radio advertising restrictions to the hours of 1am to 5am. The restrictions will be extended to youTube videos, with other social channels operators permitted to share ads with their followers only.

Another new requirement to reduce minor exposure to gambling online is age-gating.

New Measures Made Permanent

The new measures further prohibit promotional bonuses, with a concession for operators to target registered, verified customers with special offers.

These measures were first published in February with exceptions in place for TV and radio sports broadcasts, but with bonusing and sports sponsorships permitted.

The proposed rules were amended in July to adopt measures initially introduced as temporary player protections during the pandemic.

Rise in Youth Play

The added protections represent the government's response to the tripling of gambling advertising spend over the past four years, exacerbated by a concerning rise in youth play from 28% of new players in 2017 to 40% of new customers by 2019.

Emerging Trend?

Garzón claims that Spain is only the first of many European countries tightening controls on gambling marketing, calling the sector built “on the backs of very vulnerable groups.”

Jdigital's Argument

Counting over 80% of Spain's gaming licensees among its members, Jdigital said the measures would lead to an increase in illegal gambling due to “disproportionate restriction of the advertising activity of legal operators that it is comparable, in practice, to a prohibition.”


Somehow, the rapid curtailing of exposure of youth to gambling advertising does not quite seem so extreme as the prohibition, and if operators are prepared to acquiesce with the change necessary, the vibrant Spanish market should not have a problem transforming into a more optimised model.

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