Spain’s Gambling Reform Advances as House Committee Greenlights Amendments

Reforms to Spain’s gambling laws are finding support from lawmakers. This past Monday, a Congress of Deputies committee approved a bill that opens the door to new gambling regulations.

Spain’s Congress of Deputies. A chamber committee has advanced a bill to reform the country’s gambling laws. (Image: Shutterstock)

With 22 votes in favor, none against and 14 abstentions, the Health and Consumer Affairs Commission approved the initiative. It now heads for discussion in plenary in the Lower House.

If it finds approval there, the bill will be sent to the Senate. However, the approval process starts over again there, which means the final resolution will still take some time.

Major Gambling Law Overhaul

Spain, in 2021, collected more than €30 million (US$31.5 million) in taxes from online casino operators alone. This is a figure that is rising and that could increase to €40 million (US$42 million) by the end of this year. In addition, a recent study by Spain’s National Commission on Markets and Competition showed that gambling is the number-one eCommerce activity in the country.

As a result of the growing interest in gambling, the reforms of Spain’s Gambling Regulation Law include in its objectives the protection of minors and participants in gambling. They also address the prevention of possible addictive behaviors.

The text adds an article that points out the general principles for the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of gambling activities. It states that commercial communications will require “a sense of social responsibility, without undermining or trivializing the complexity of gambling activity or its potential harmful effects on people.”

The reforms ensure there’s no confusion about what that “sense of social responsibility” means, the gambling reforms. They include the conditions under which a commercial communication will be considered contrary to this principle.

Finally, there is the inclusion of an additional provision on guidelines for the safer use of “non-fungible digital assets.” This specifies that the government will elaborate a series of measures to guarantee the safer use of these assets, loot boxes and the mechanics of monetization of the participation of users.

Research and Analysis Fundamental to Gambling

In the context of the new regulatory framework, the National Gambling Commission will have additional roles. It will reinforce the ability of Spain’s gambling regulator to evaluate the effectiveness of the measures on responsible or safe gambling initiatives required of operators.

In addition, it will need to protect groups of “at-risk” players. The agency will accomplish this by evaluating the effectiveness of the measures on responsible or safer gambling aimed at these groups. Those measures are obligatory procedures operators must introduce in accordance with their licensing agreements.

The project introduces a reference to the technical instrument in which stakeholders interested in the eradication of fraud and manipulation of sports competitions will be present. They will accomplish this through the so-called Global Betting Market Research Service (SIGMA, for its Spanish acronym).

In this sense, the General Directorate of Gambling Regulation (DGOJ, for its Spanish acronym) will restrict the rights of access, rectification, limitation, deletion, opposition and portability regarding the processing of data in SIGMA. This is a measure to prevent coercion or manipulation in investigations of potential wrongdoing.

The reforms also incorporate an additional provision regarding SIGMA. This will define its purpose, the proper handling of the data it receives, its configuration and the actors that need to adhere to it.

All of these changes address Spanish gambling on a larger scale. However, there are also regional changes that each autonomous community is introducing. Navarre, Madrid and Palma de Mallorca are just a few that have recently announced changes to their gambling regulations. In all cases, they have introduced tighter restrictions and reduced the number of legal gambling properties they allow.

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