Spanish Supreme Court Questions Ad Restrictions

July 22, 2022
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​​​​​​​Spain’s Supreme Court has said there is reason to think the country’s gambling ad ban could be unconstitutional.

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Spain’s Supreme Court has said there is reason to think the country’s gambling ad ban could be unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court issued an order which officially raises the question of unconstitutionality on July 20, agreeing with a petition by the Spanish Association of Online Gambling (Jdigital) that Decree 958/2020 “may violate” the Spanish Constitution, which protects basic rights, including free communication.

Decree 958/2020, implemented in November 2020, puts severe restrictions on gambling advertisements in the county.

The Supreme Court’s order follows ten days in May 2022 when the involved parties presented their arguments on the possible unconstitutionality of Article 7 of Law 13/2011, which establishes the conditions and limits of all forms of gambling advertising.

Jdigital and the Media and Information Association (AMI) filed their case together against the decree in January 2021, saying that it would “leave gambling consumers defenseless and unprotected” and could make gambling addictions worse.

More than a year after Jdigital filed the administrative appeal against the regulation, it is convinced that it has taken the right steps to preserve and protect the interests of the sector and its customers.

“The current scenario makes it more necessary than ever for the regulator and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to open a window of dialogue with the online gambling ecosystem in order to study fair and proportionate legislative ways that are in line with the reality of the sector and do not harm operators and related industries,” Jdigital said.

The latest decision is a court decision, not a ruling, meaning it will not have an immediate impact.

Santiago Asensi, a Spanish gambling lawyer and expert, cautioned restrained optimism on the case earlier this year.

“Imagine that it takes three or four years for the Constitutional Court to make a decision, then for three or four years, the Supreme Court is not going to rule. It’s going to wait to see what the Constitutional Court says. If during that time, the decree remains valid, the damages to the online gaming market would be tremendously serious,” Asensi said.

It is possible that an injunction or other legal avenues could be pursued to pause the decree if the case goes on for years.

At the time of writing, the Directorate General for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ) and the Ministry of Consumers Affairs have not responded to comment on the Supreme Court’s order.

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