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Jdigital labels Spain ad restrictions annulments “very positive” but urges caution

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The Spanish Digital Gaming Association (Jdigital) says the Supreme Court’s decision to partially uphold its appeal against Royal Decree 958/2020 is positive for the industry, although it is also calling for further dialogue with the regulator.

On Wednesday (10 March), the supreme court partially upheld a Jdigital appeal. The ruling annulled several measures included in the Royal Decree 958/2020, which entered into force in November 2020. The supreme court deemed a number of articles in the Royal Decree to lack the necessary legal basis.

Among the overturned measures was article 13, which relates to targeted advertising towards new customers. Operators will again be able to market to players who have had an account for less than 30 days. They will also be able to advertise in establishments with public accessibility and designated for the sale of lottery games.

The supreme court’s ruling also means that celebrities can appear in advertising again. Additionally, the ban on gambling adverts on video sharing platforms (such as YouTube) was overturned. Operators can also again advertise to all social media users aged 18 and over.

Jdigital has hailed the importance of the supreme court’s decision for Spain’s gambling industry. It saw a previous appeal rejected by the constitutional court in November 2023,

A Jdigital statement shared with iGB said: “At Jdigital we consider that the ruling issued by the supreme court, which annuls several articles of Royal Decree 958/2020 on communications of commercial gaming activities, is very positive news for the association and for the online gaming sector.

“The ruling shows that, in the last legislature, the regulation of advertising of the sector imposed disproportionate limits and restrictions, which did not observe safety measures and sufficient legal protection, as we claim in our appeal.”

Jdigital: Measures have “limited scope”

Jdigital emphasised the positives of the supreme court’s decision for Spain’s operators. However, it also warns the measures remaining in place are still somewhat restrictive.

While some of the Royal Decree’s measures were considered to lack legal coverage, other restrictions, such as the ban on advertising between 1am and 5am on TV and radio, are covered by the General Law of Audiovisual Communication and will therefore still be enforced.

Article 12 on sports sponsorship also does not appear in the annulments. Operators still cannot advertise, or use branding for events, goods and services that minors can see. Operators also still cannot sponsor sporting events or broadcasts. Sponsorship activities relating to a sports facility also remain prohibited.

Jdigital warned that it was “necessary to be cautious” over the supreme court’s ruling due to its “limited scope”. It pointed to the ongoing enforcement of the Advertising Code of Conduct as an example that advertising is still restricted.

“This self-regulatory mechanism limits commercial communications in the sector and was modified in 2019 to strengthen consumer protection and, for example, limits welcome bonuses to a maximum of €200 or prevents famous people from appearing in advertising under 25 years old,” Jdigital explained.

Jdigital calls for increased communication in Spain

Jdigital’s statement reiterated its desire to encourage increased dialogue between the industry and the regulator to work together to boost responsible gambling efforts.

Additionally, Jdigital said it advocates working towards a guaranteed framework. It is calling for prudence from its associations to adapt advertising to reinforce its commitment to consumer protection.

Jdigital added: “We hope that this resolution will serve to ensure that, in the current legislature, the government addresses the demands of the sector in the regulatory field and promotes public-private dialogue.

“We want to offer our knowledge for the development of proportionate standards that guarantee the responsible gaming objectives that we all defend and pursue.”

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