Spain To Bar 'Intensive' Gamblers From Using Credit Cards

March 15, 2023
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A new Spanish royal decree targets the protection of young people aged 18 to 25 years-old and what it calls “intensive” gamblers, who will be shielded from promotions, VIP status and restricted from using credit cards.

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A new Spanish royal decree targets the protection of young people aged 18 to 25 years-old and what it calls “intensive” gamblers, who will be shielded from promotions, VIP status and restricted from using credit cards.

Players who lose more than €600 in three weeks, or €200 for under-25s, will be barred from using credit cards and will not be able to receive marketing messages.

They will be sent messages of concern, and if they do not respond within 72 hours, their accounts must be suspended, according to the decree.

The royal decree “fulfils two commitments of the government agreement: to protect the most vulnerable players and to involve gambling and betting operators in the prevention, awareness and repair of the undesirable effects of gambling”, minister Alberto Garzón said in a tweet.

People under the age of 25 and the vulnerable are targeted for special care due to being “particularly sensitive to inappropriate messages and game patterns”, the ministry said.

Players under 25 cannot be added to VIP programmes and must be sent messages noting that gambling at a young age is associated with developing problematic gambling habits, the ministry said.

The decree was approved by the Council of Ministers on Monday (March 13) and is now awaiting publication in the official state gazette.

Most of the provisions will take effect six months after the decree is published in the gazette, although some carrying “special complexity” will take effect 12 months later.

Jdigital, Spain’s online gambling trade group, complained that the new measures were part of the government's tendency “to regulate already hyper-regulated activities”, when problem gambling levels in Spain are declining, rather than rising.

The group said the decree sent “confusing and alarming messages” about a “perfectly safe sector” that is already suffering from restrictions on advertising.

Sports sponsorships are banned in Spain and TV, radio and online video advertising is limited to between 1am and 5am.

The measures carry penalties of up to €1m and suspension of a gambling licence for up to six months, and up to €50m and potential full loss of licence for “very serious” infractions, the ministry said.

Jdigital said it was happy that some of its recommendations had been taken into account, such as additional time needed to implement some of the measures, but others had not been adopted, such as its suggestion that financial circumstances can differ from player to player.

The decree also contains “vague” provisions, which it will study in the coming weeks with an eye on making further recommendations, the group said.

In April 2020, the UK’s Gambling Commission banned the use of credit cards, saying that gamblers who used credit cards were far more likely to have problematic habits.

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