Gambling has become a huge problem in Spain as bookmakers are using aggressive advertising strategies using celebrities to drive interest in their products. Now, local governments of Barcelona and Valencia are stepping up to the challenge and introducing stricter new regulations.
Social concerns weigh on
Spain is getting increasingly involved in gambling, and young Spaniards are especially prone to harms related to this activity. Bookmakers are now marketing their offerings in the market, roping in celebrities to do their bidding. This is lucrative enough for younger and more impressionable people to get lured into gambling. But this is not all; several bookmakers are now setting up shops near schools. Moreover, online gambling is also becoming very rampant. Due to the easy accessibility of gambling venues and sites, minors are now at a higher risk of developing gambling addictions or experiencing gambling-related harm.
According to 2018 figures, the number of active gamblers increased by 5.24% (year-on-year) with 1,465,129 players. The Spanish finance ministry said that the Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) of the industry was 25.48% higher in 2018 than 2017 at €699 million. Interestingly, the marketing expenses of the industry increased by 48% since 2018 reaching a whopping €328 million. This means that the sector is spending close to half of its revenue on marketing its products to Spaniards.
Local regulations to tackle the issue
While there is no alarm at the national level, the local communities are now fighting to protect their kids. The City of Barcelona and the autonomous community of Valencia recently brought new local regulations to protect minors. Last week, the Valencia government approved a new gambling law that prevents the entry of minors and pathological gamblers from entering bookmaker premises. The bill will also bring increased sanctions and better public spending for programs geared at preventing gambling harm. The parliament will now discuss the bill over the upcoming weeks and may even decide the minimum distance while bookmakers and other gambling establishments should maintain from schools.
A few days before Valencia’s bill, Barcelona city council banned the launch of new gambling entities which included casinos, bingos, and bookmakers. The city argued that its decision is inspired by an effort to preserve the health of its citizens. It said that at least 0.4% of the Spanish population between the ages of 15 and 64 had developed gambling-related pathological problems. It also said that young people are at a heightened risk of developing such issues.