Spanish online gambling companies have been told to avoid taking advantage of problem gamblers during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. On Tuesday, Spanish media reported that the Council of Ministers had prohibited online gambling advertising for the duration of the country’s lockdown period. This aims to “prevent bookmakers from doing business with people’s concern and anxiety.”
Pablo Iglesias, a government official issued the order. Iglesias said that the decision was adopted “in the context of confinement that makes it more necessary” to protect those at risk from gambling. Lockdown in Spain is expected to extend past 12 April if community transmission rates remain high.
Online gambling advertising targets problem gamblers
The Spanish government acted after receiving reports from a number of problem gambling groups. They said that calls from those with issues had increased over the last few weeks because of lockdown restrictions. The Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego said that online gambling activity had increased despite the closure of sporting events to bet on. Instead, sports bettors are turning to online casinos or other games to get their fix.
The restrictions will apply across all platforms – TV, social media, online, and radio. An exemption will be in place between the hours of 1 am and 5 am where adverts will be shown. The restriction on these adverts is that they are not allowed to appeal to player boredom. Additionally, they are not allowed to encourage players to wager online or offer bonuses.
Before Tuesday’s announcement, nine Spanish operators had issued a statement expressing their full support for the fight against Coronavirus. They pledged their “full collaboration with those initiatives” and aimed to reassure gaming staff that their jobs were safe.
Similar restrictions in the UK
Similar rules and requests have been made in other countries including the UK. On 19 March, the UK’s Gambling Commission warned all of its licensees to avoid abusing opportunities resulting from the pandemic.
In a statement, the UKGC reminded its license holders to “continue to protect consumers” during the crisis. The regulator specifically warned them that they have an obligation to monitor client activity for signs of problem gaming.
The UKGC said online licensees “must continue to act responsibly, especially in regards to individual customer affordability and increased social responsibility interactions.” With many individuals “experiencing disrupted income,” operators are advised to “assess individual affordability on an ongoing basis.”
If you are an online gambling operator who’s unsure of how COVID-19 will impact you, or if you are looking to move into the online gaming sector, contact us today. We have worked for over 22 years in this sector and have experience in jurisdictions all over the world. It’s our pleasure to advise you on conducting business during this challenging time and assisting you in making it happen.