Spain approves over 30 measures to protect youth from gambling
The Spanish Ministry of Consumer Affairs has given the go-ahead to enact a new Royal Decree containing over 30 measures for responsible gaming. The “Royal Decree on Responsible Gambling Environments” will be implemented in all 17 autonomous regions of Spain. The ministry intends to use the measures to protect individuals aged 18 to 25 from engaging in risky or excessive gambling practices. The latest move by the ministry to implement new measures follows the 2020 Royal Decree of Commercial Communications, which significantly strengthened Spain’s gambling advertising regulations.
Safeguards to protect youth from problem gambling
According to the ministry, the decree will help reduce the occurrence of hazardous or excessive gambling practices, which can result in problematic or pathological behaviors in the most severe cases. The new regulations require all Spanish online casino license holders to implement new duty of care regulations, which include developing risk profiles for clients and closely monitoring specific types of users. The decree’s primary focus is on individuals aged 18 to 25, who are deemed particularly vulnerable to inappropriate messaging and gambling promotions. The regulations, however, will strengthen safeguards for other high-risk groups.
Consumer spending will define risk profiles in online casinos. It requires that a user who suffers a net loss of €600, or €200 for those under the age of 25, over a three-week period be classified as an intensive gambler. This categorization is set by the government. Furthermore, the Royal Decree includes additional safeguards for players who have implemented safer gambling limits on their gambling accounts or have registered with the national self-exclusion registry.
Dealing with the issue directly
The growing concern about problem gambling rates, particularly among young people, has been one of the primary motivators behind Spanish lawmakers’ recent efforts to toughen gambling-related laws. The ease of access to online gambling is thought to be a factor in the rising levels of problem gamblers in Spain.
Unlike most strategies, the new declaration seeks a personalized approach to the gambling issue. Individuals who have been identified as at-risk will receive a warning message as well as a monthly summary of their gambling activity. If they do not respond within 72 hours, their account will be suspended. Individuals will also be barred from using credit cards to fund their accounts or participating in any VIP programs. The declaration also places restrictions on marketing. For example, marketing teams are not permitted to send promotions to individuals under the age of 25 who have never interacted with the operator.
The majority of the strengthened regulations will become effective six months after they are published in the Official State Gazette. However, some of the more complicated regulations may be granted a 12-month transition period.
The statistical viewpoint
A study conducted by an addiction welfare clinic estimated that the rate of problem gambling among people aged 14 to 18 in Spain is 3.4%. As a result, the Spanish government has pledged to increase its spending on gambling addiction prevention in the new budget, from $1.16 million to $2.3 million. If operators do not comply, the Ministry of Consumption has the authority to levy fines as high as the gambling laws in Spain allow. Such include a €50m ($53m) fine and the operators’ gaming licenses may be revoked if the violation is deemed particularly severe.
The new rules usually take effect six months after they are published in the Official State Gazette. Certain regulations, however, that involve complex technological requirements may be delayed for up to 12 months. JDigital, a Spanish online operator association, has criticized the Royal Decree, claiming that Spain’s regulatory framework is already one of the strictest in Europe and that problem gambling rates are declining.
The association expressed support for industry regulation, as long as the measures are reasonable and contribute to safer gambling environments without being punitive to operators. JDigital will continue to work with the regulator to address the establishment of secure online gambling environments in Spain in the most effective way possible, as it has done so in the past.
The new Royal Decree on Responsible Gambling Environments in Spain is a significant step forward in the country’s gambling industry regulation. It is especially concerned with protecting young people and vulnerable customers. While the Spanish online operator association JDigital has criticized the decree, citing the country’s already stringent regulatory regime, the government’s commitment to tackling problem gambling and increasing spending on gambling addiction prevention demonstrates the country’s determination to create safer gambling environments.