Spain to severely restrict advertising for on-line betting

Spain’s government has announced plans to restrict advertising for on-line betting houses on the Internet, television, and during sporting events

MADRID -- Spain’s government announced plans Friday for what it said would be the toughest legislation in the European Union on restricting advertising for on-line betting houses.

Consumer AffairsMinister Alberto Garzón said the planned measures, which will affect ads on the Internet, on TV and at sporting events, were designed to stop about 80% of current advertisements for on-line betting.

“A social alarm exists in the country (about betting),” Garzón said. “These measures represent a first step.”

The planned law would restrict televised betting ads to between 1-5 a.m. except for during sports events, in which case they can only be shown after 8 p.m. On weekends, many soccer matches start before 8 p.m.

Consumer protection groups criticized the minister for not completely banning commercials for betting sites during all sports events, regardless of the time of the day.

Garzón defended his position by saying that an outright ban would only create a black market where risks would be higher.

“If we generate incentives for these businesses to go underground … it is likely that we would be pushing people who need protection into an illegal world where they would have no protection at all,” Garzón said.

Furthermore, famous entertainers or sports stars will be prohibited from appearing in betting ads. Betting houses will be unable to pay to have sports stadiums use their company name as sponsors, and teams sponsored by betting houses will be banned from selling child-sized shirts that include the company’s name.

The law will also require versions of on-line games like poker that do not involve real money to incorporate the same algorithm as the version that involves real betting.

Garzón said that currently many versions of betting games that do not involve real money are easier to win than the real version, creating the illusion that winning money through bets is easier than it truly is.