Spain has implemented a strict Gambling Ad Restrictions act, prohibiting gambling firms from being able to sponsor team stadiums, equipment, uniforms, and any other aspect of a club. The declaration expands to restrictions that already prevent similar sponsorship on youth apparel.The new restrictions are part of Spain’s Royal Decree on Advertising that mandates that licensed gambling companies can only advertise between 1 am and 5 am each day.
Alberto Garzon, the country’s Minister of Consumer Affairs (pictured left), set down the tough new rules on clubs in La Liga, the top soccer league in Spain.
Currently eight La Liga clubs have sport gaming firms as their primary shirt sponsor and have already had to block or remove those marks based on a temporary ban that began on March 31. Officials believe that the advertising bill will pass muster with the European Union in Brussels in time for the new regulations to apply to the 2020-2021 season.
Valencia and Sevilla are the most prominent teams on the block, with Alaves, Leganes, Granada, Mallorca, Osasuna, and Levante also featuring gaming companies on their shirts. However, the agreement will also impact all 17 teams that have some form of sponsorship deal with betting firms.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters (pictured right) had previously spoken out on the issue, saying back in February that he believed that while some regulation was needed, soccer clubs should be able to have sports betting partners.
Speaking to Sky News, he had said: "We’re not sniffy about the gambling industry,” Masters said. “The Premier League has never had a betting relationship, but it’s our clubs that enter into shirt sponsorship. The whole area does need, I think, probably, slightly firmer regulation, particularly around the most vulnerable. But I don’t necessarily think that the answer should be that clubs should no longer have betting partnerships.”
However, a recent House of Lords Select Committee report on gambling disagreed with that assessment and recommended banning gambling sponsors in the Premier League, and eventually for all soccer teams.
The new restrictions come at the same time as the new Real Madrid deal with Asian company KOK Sports, which runs for the next three seasons, from 2020-21 to 2022-23.
As the official sponsor for the betting sector in Asia, KOK Sports will work with Real Madrid “to develop unique content and interactive experiences” for fans in Asia, the club said. The brand will replace the Malta-based betting operator ManBetX, which acquired the club’s Asian betting sponsorship rights from 2018-19 to 2019-20, in September 2018.
Following the announcement of proposed changes to the country's advertising rules, the European Gaming and Betting Association has issued a statement expressing concern that the 'near ban' would deprive consumers of information about regulated safe play and have a negative impact on 'football clubs reeling from the financial fallout of COVID-19'.
Maarten Haijer, Secretary General, EGBA said: “Advertising has a crucial role to play in informing consumers which websites are regulated, and which are not. The near absolute advertising ban proposed in Spain will deprive Spanish players of any information where they can play in a safe and secure environment.
"This is highly counterproductive and we urge the Spanish authorities to reconsider the proposals, and focus instead on strict regulation of the contents of advertising. We fully agree that advertising should be responsible, both in terms of content and design, and that is why we recently published a code of conduct on responsible advertising.
"The code offers practical ways in which gambling advertising can be conducted in a socially responsible way and as a conduit for informing citizens about important consumer protection measures, such as age restrictions and safer gambling tools. Finally, exempting state-involved lotteries, which account for two thirds of Spain’s gambling market, from the restrictions is unjustified, protectionist and discriminatory.”
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