Jdigital – Spanish Ombudsman holds a ‘misinformed agenda’ on gambling

Mikel López de Torre, President of Spanish online gambling trade body, Jdigital has issued a response to ‘Civic Ombudsman’, Francisco Fernández Marugán, who this week urged the new Spanish government to implementa complete ban on gambling advertising’.

Issuing a personal statement, López de Torre details that Fernández Marugán is deeply misinformed in his knowledge of existing Spanish gambling laws and support structures.

“We were very surprised by the actions of the Ombudsman for many reasons. Mainly because it shows, he does not know how the gambling regulatory frameworks in Spain. But furthermore, because he seems to be unaware of the fact that problem gambling is already covered by the National Plan on Drugs’ epidemic studies. Which show problem gambling prevalence in Spain is among the lowest in the world (0,3%)” López de Torre states.

The recommendations made by Marugán have already been addressed to the Ministries of Finance and Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare.

The two organisations have detailed that an ‘open-ended action plan’, is needed with regards the proliferation and intense publicity of gambling ads and bookmakers, being broadcast across Spanish networks.

“The ombudsman literally asks for a reference to online gambling in the advertising decree… which regulates online gambling advertising specifically (as retail gambling in Spain is under the remit of regional regulators). And demands a study on problem gambling prevalence, which as mentioned was published last year.” López de Torre adds.

Fernández Marugán calls for government action on gambling advertising, coming at a time when the majority of Spanish gambling incumbents accept that the nation will undertake a regulatory reform on advertising standards and practices.

Representing industry stakeholders, López de Torre, maintains that Jdigital will support a sensible reform of gambling advertising laws, protecting consumers, whilst maintaining the principals of a ‘liberalised but well-regulated market.

“As we’ve seen in Italy. Advertising bans go against the interests of vulnerable groups. They create the perfect environment for illegal gambling offshore to bloom. Additionally, by excluding the state monopoly and reserved operators from the proposed advertising ban. The ombudsman goes against the recommendations of the CNMC (Spanish Competition Authority) and the European Commission.

As an industry, we have always been in favour of any measures that help in our common objective of protecting vulnerable groups. The Spanish regulation is hands down one of the best and most effective in the world in protecting minors, and problem gamblers. We work to make sure Spanish consumers can enjoy gambling as part of their entertainment options in a safe, regulated, and productive manner. Irrespective of whether the offering is provided by public, private, or semiprivate operators.”

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