Challenge to Spanish gambling advertising ban rejected

Challenge to Spanish gambling advertising ban rejected

In a significant ruling, the Constitutional Court of Spain has unanimously rejected an appeal challenging the ‘Royal Decree on Advertising’, dealing a blow to Jdigital, Spain’s online gambling trade association. The appeal, which questioned the constitutional oversight of the gambling advertising ban, was brought forward by Jdigital, sparking a legal battle that has finally concluded.

Drafted in 2020 by Alberto Garzon, Spain’s former Minister of Consumer Affairs, the Royal Decree aimed to overhaul the country’s advertising laws. It introduced a comprehensive ban on betting sponsorship across Spanish sports and established a new 1am-5am timeframe for broadcasting gambling adverts on media platforms.

Jdigital contested the decree, arguing that key constitutional procedures had been bypassed during its ascent to federal law. Despite receiving a ‘positive response’ in a review by the Third Chamber of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, upon review, unanimously dismissed the appeal.

Court’s decision and legal perspectives

The court emphasised that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs had made necessary amendments to Spain’s Gambling Law, specifically revising Article-7, recognised as a federal law by Spanish courts. The court stated, “Constitutional Court considered that the complaint has been extinguished because the new Article 7 bis of the Gambling Regulation Law does establish guidelines or criteria.”

In response to the ruling, Jdigital argued that the Royal Decree interfered with freedom of enterprise, contending that advertising is part of that freedom. However, the Constitutional Court held that such freedoms are regulated by law, not royal decree, citing the Spanish constitution.

Future regulatory developments

Amid these legal battles, Spain is witnessing changes in its Ministry of Consumer Affairs. Pablo Bustinduy has replaced Alberto Garzon, and the new Ministry is moving forward with the “Royal Decree on Responsible Gaming Environments.” The goal is to implement stringent surveillance measures, including a centralised player registry, cross-operator deposit limits, and mandatory record-keeping for customers under 25.

However, doubts have surfaced regarding whether the technical requirements of the decree can be met by Spanish authorities responsible for supervising gambling activities and consumer engagements.

Industry outlook

With the Constitutional Court’s ruling, the legal landscape for gambling advertising in Spain remains intact. The case has been handed back to the Supreme Court, and industry experts are closely watching developments under the new leadership of Bibiana Medialdea, Spain’s recently appointed general secretary of consumer affairs and gaming.

As the gambling industry navigates these regulatory challenges, continuity is expected under Medialdea’s leadership, emphasising consumer protection and addressing potential abuse and fraud in the sector.

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