Spain's Supreme Court Strikes Down Large Sections Of Advertising Ban

April 11, 2024
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In a landmark ruling, Spain’s Supreme Court has found several articles of Royal Decree 958/2020, which implemented a near total ban on gambling advertisements, to be unlawful. 
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In a landmark ruling, Spain’s Supreme Court has found several articles of Royal Decree 958/2020, which implemented a near total ban on gambling advertisements, to be unlawful. 

Articles that prevented celebrities from appearing in gambling ads, promotions directed at new customers, advertising on game or video sharing platforms, and limiting advertising on social network platforms, were all struck down. 

"Advertising is part of the freedom of business and is subject to limits, as it is a regulated activity … . However, such limits and prohibitions, insofar as they also affect the exercise of lawful business activity, must have sufficient legal coverage, without being able to be regulated by independent regulatory standards unrelated to the criteria and limits set by the legislator," according to the court. 

The lawsuit was first filed by trade group JDigital, along with the Association of Media and Information (AMI), back in January 2021.

Spanish gaming law firm Loyra Abogados wrote on Wednesday (April 10) of the ruling: “The Supreme Court has pondered the freedom of enterprise right and found no legal base to limit in regards to the mentioned articles.”

However, the court did dismiss “the appeal regarding other regulatory provisions on the grounds that they have sufficient legal coverage and the established limitations are proportional”.

Patricia Lalanda, a lawyer at Loyra, told Vixio GamblingCompliance that this was to be expected as “TV restrictions in no way could be annulled as they were included in the audiovisual law”. Overall, she called it “quite an amazing sentence which goes against the judicial tendency”.

Royal Decree 958/2020 has been viewed as excessive since it was published in 2020. Over the years, JDigital has said it is responsible for leaving “gambling consumers defenceless and unprotected”. 

JDigital reacted to the ruling with cautious optimism calling it "very positive news for the association and for the online gaming sector".

However, it remains unhappy with articles that still stand, particularly the limit that restricts advertising to between the hours of 1am and 5am. It continues to ask for "a dialogue with the regulator to know its assessment of the ruling and to be able to work together in a proportionate regulatory framework, in the terms established by the Supreme Court". 

The ruling came into effect on April 10.

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