Spain's Senate Approves Online Gambling Law Reform

October 28, 2022
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Spain’s Senate has passed a bill to reform the country’s 2011 online gambling law by strengthening the role of the national Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ), reinforcing restrictions on advertising and providing additional gambling addiction protections.

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Spain’s Senate has passed a bill to reform the country’s 2011 online gambling law by strengthening the role of the national Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ), reinforcing restrictions on advertising and providing additional gambling addiction protections.

With 146 votes in favour and 113 abstentions, senators passed the Gambling Reform Law (no. 13/2021) on October 26 after also rejecting ten amendments to the version of the bill approved by the Chamber of Deputies in August.

The legislation introduces a new system for combating betting fraud in the form of the Global Betting Market Investigation Service (SIGMA), to be managed by the DGOJ.

According to the text, “the purpose of this service is to prevent and combat fraud in the sports-betting market and the manipulation in this type of competitions, by means of the appropriate exchange of information between its participants”.

It also gives power to SIGMA to process personal data in cases where fraud is suspected.

Elsewhere, the reforms will establish a new national self-exclusion system, formally oblige operators to protect problem gamblers and require the DGOJ to issue new guidelines regarding non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and loot boxes in video games.

The bill also amends the 2011 law’s provisions that saw nationally licensed online gambling operators lose their licences if they commit two or more very serious (“muy grave”) infractions of regional gambling laws in any of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities. In the amended text, that has been changed to two very serious infractions only at the national level.

According to Albert Augustinoy, a partner at law firm Cuatrecasas in Barcelona, the change has to do with avoiding conflict between national and regional powers.

Although bricks and mortar gambling premises are subject to regulations at a local level, online gambling operators are generally subject to national oversight by the DGOJ.

“At the end of the day, it would be sanctioning at the state (national) level on the basis of sanctions that were imposed at a regional level. That could create a constitutional issue of distribution of powers,” Agustinoy told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.

Also of note is a new article to be added to the 2011 law to transpose into statute a portion of a 2020 royal decree on advertising.

Augustinoy said it was unclear why that specific article was chosen, instead of language from other laws related to the protection of minors.

Overall, the changes brought about by the new law are comparatively minor, say lawyers.

“The reason may be due to the current parliamentary conditions of the government,” Agustinoy told VIXIO. “The lack of, let’s say, ambition, in the reform is due, to some extent, to the fact that they wanted to ensure that the reform was moving forward without being blocked by the opposition.”

The current Spanish government is left wing, a coalition of the socialist party and the former communist party, which controls the Ministry of Consumer Affairs that oversees gambling matters.

The legal reforms will enter into force the day after their publication in Spain’s official gazette.

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