FACUA lambasts Spanish advertising decree for maintaining football sponsorships

Spain’s long-awaited Royal Decree on Advertising is expected to cut gambling communications by 80 per cent, with the country’s government seeking to clamp down on a variety of betting-related marketing activities.

The left-wing coalition, formed by the PSOE and Podemos parties, is expected to tighten restrictions on betting advertising channels after claiming that the gambling industry was ‘over-exposed to young audiences’. Market critics cite that Spanish online betting revenue has risen dramatically in recent years to $19.2 billion in 2018.

Advertising reforms have been led by Spain’s new Minister for Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzón, who stated: “The regulation has to be similar to [that of] tobacco. We are not regulating the textile sector here, but a sector that has an impact on public health.

“If there are people [who want] the total ban on advertising, I am here to discuss it and explain that international experiences, such as that of Italy, have proved to be a failure; that the economic rationality of the measure is also wrong and that therefore the total ban on advertising is not only inappropriate but also imprudent.

“There are people who will bet, yes, and yes because they may have a problem.”

Reacting to developments, consumer rights body FACUA expressed its dissatisfaction at the government’s mandate, and claimed that PSOE-Podemos should have implemented a tougher federal advertising regime . 

FACUA has previously described betting commercials being broadcast during football matches as a ‘serious irresponsibility’ while concluding that nine out of 10 consumers would support a total ban on advertising and sponsorship by casinos and bookmakers – a directive FACUA urges the government to support. 

Garzón said that while, ideally, a full ban on betting would be perfect, having such a practice would be counter-active and could result in customers going into illegal avenues. 

He commented: “If we generate incentives for companies to go to the illegal world because they no longer have advantages in the legal world, we are likely to be pushing people who need protection to an illegal world where there is no protection.”

Among the proposed plans include an advertising ban for gambling companies. TV and Radio adverts will be banned until 8pm, while online betting advertising will only be permitted between 1 am and 5 am. This could severely impact Spanish football’s La Liga revenue indirectly considering around 50 per cent of all La Liga matches take place within those time frames.

Betting companies will also be unable to sponsor stadiums and team names in any sporting capacity. Plus, celebrities or anybody who the government deems as ‘well-known personalities’ cannot associate themselves with betting companies in Spain.

The government has made the decision not to ban bookmaker sponsorships in sports in an attempt to soften the blow for many of Spain’s biggest clubs, especially in La Liga which currently has 19 clubs that have such deals in place.

While shirt sponsorships will be allowed, betting firm logos will be removed from all child replica shirts sold by any Spanish club.

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