Friday, March 1, 2024

Gambling Comparative Guide – – Spain

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1 History of and overall attitudes to gambling

1.1 How prevalent are different types of gambling in your jurisdiction? For example, does the current law reflect: (a) Religious or moral objections to gambling? (b) A permissive approach which also seeks to address the social consequences of gambling? and (c) The promotion of gambling as an ‘export’ industry?

From a regulatory perspective, Spain has 20 different gaming jurisdictions in which most types of gambling and products are allowed, subject to the corresponding licence or authorisation. In general terms, the national regulatory body and those of the autonomous regions have an open approach to gambling, which is over-regulated in almost all cases. The protection of players is prioritised by the gambling legislation of both the state and the different regions. In addition to traditional measures on this subject, the gambling regulations have in recent months included new restrictions in line with current regulatory trends.

2 Legal and regulatory framework

2.1 Which legislative and regulatory provisions govern gambling in your jurisdiction?

The legislative and regulatory provisions that govern gambling in Spain vary depending on whether the activity is:

  • offered online at the federal level; or
  • land-based or online offered only within one or several regions in Spain.

Online gambling at the federal level is subject to the Spanish Gambling Act and a federal licence is required in order to operate online in the whole territory.

On the contrary, land-based gambling and online gambling offered at the regional level (the latter is not a common activity) require a regional licence from the relevant autonomous region and are subject to regional regulations and provisions governing the relevant gambling product or activity.

2.2 Which bodies are responsible for regulating and enforcing the applicable laws and regulations? What powers do they have?

Spain has a central government, 17 autonomous regions and two autonomous cities: Ceuta and Melilla. The body responsible for regulating and enforcing online gambling at the federal level is the General Directorate for Gambling Regulation (DGOJ), which for the past two years has operated under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs; previously, it was under the umbrella of the Ministry of Finance.

For regional licences (land-based and online gambling at the regional level), the body responsible for issuing licences, supervising activities and enforcing the applicable laws is the respective regional gambling authority, which in most regions operates under the umbrella of the regional departments of finance or interior.

2.3 What is the regulators’ general approach in regulating the gambling sector?

Despite the flexible and quite permissive approach that the regulators have traditionally adopted for both online and land-based gambling, in the past two years the regime has become significantly more restrictive. Rules and policies are focused on protecting customers by imposing strict restrictions on gambling activity and gambling operators. Clear examples of this trend include:

  • the new regulation on gambling advertising applicable to online operators licensed at the federal level (one of the most restrictive in Europe);
  • further restrictive regulations on advertising approved at the regional level; and
  • the suspension of new authorisations for land-based gambling premises by a significant number of autonomous regions and regulators.

3 Definitions and scope of gambling

3.1 How is ‘gambling’ defined in your jurisdiction?

‘Gambling’ is defined as:

an activity in which amounts of money or economically measurable objects are put at risk on uncertain and future events, dependent at least to some extent on chance, and that allows these sums to be transferred between the participants, regardless of whether the level of skill of the players is decisive in the results or whether they depend wholly or fundamentally on luck or chance. The prizes can be in cash or in kind, depending on the type of game.

3.2 What different types of activities are defined in the gambling legislation and what specific requirements apply to each? Please consider: (a) Betting (fixed odds/pool and spread)/betting on lotteries; (b) Gaming (house and ring games); (c) Lotteries/scratch cards and (d) The interface with financial products (if relevant).

Gambling regulation in Spain is divided between:

  • online gambling that is offered at the federal level; and
  • land-based or online gambling that is offered within one or several regions.

In this sense, the Gambling Act, which regulates online gambling at the federal level, distinguishes between general and single licences. General licences can only be obtained during a public window announced by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. Since 2011, when the online gambling market became regulated, there have been three licensing windows (in 2011, 2014 and 2017). General licences per se are insufficient to commence operations; operators must also apply for single licences under the umbrella of the general licence. As long as an operator holds a general licence, it can apply for a single licence at any time (there is no need to do so under the call for a public window). At the federal level, the available licences are classified as follows:

  • General licence for betting: Single licences for fixed odds, pool and exchange betting games;
  • General licence for contests: A single licence for contests; and
  • General licence for other games: Single licences for roulette, blackjack, bingo, slots, complementary games, baccarat and poker.

For land-based gambling and online gambling at the regional level, each region has its own regulations, and thus its own gambling products and related licensing regimes and procedures.

Regarding lotteries, the State Lotteries and the National Organisation of the Blind in Spain maintain monopolies on lotteries offered at the federal level; therefore, products such as lotteries/scratch cards and betting on lotteries can only be offered by these two entities. At the regional level, only some regions allow lottery operators.

3.3 What are the main mechanisms and features of the control of gambling in your jurisdiction? What are the consequences of breach of the regulations, both for operators and for players?

Gambling in Spain is based on a licensing regime; it is thus a controlled and supervised activity, since licence holders have specific duties and obligations to the regulators. Gambling activity is also continuously monitored and supervised by the regulators. The main mechanisms and measures of this control are those approved and exercised by the General Directorate for Gambling Regulation (DGOJ) for online gambling activity at the federal level. Control and monitoring are conducted through operators’ internal control systems, which record their transactions and ensure that the regulator can maintain permanent control over gambling activities.

The internal control systems of gambling operators consist of a capture system and a secure database/gambling transactions warehouse. The secure database/warehouse must be located in Spain and contains the monitoring and control data gathered by the capture system, which may be accessed at any time by the DGOJ. This affords the DGOJ continuous control of the operator’s activities and transactions, and ensures strict compliance with the regulations.

4 Issues of jurisdiction

4.1 What approach do the courts take to the issue of jurisdiction? Where an operator which is physically outside the jurisdiction offers services to individuals within the jurisdiction, is such gambling treated as taking place offshore and outside the control of the authorities? If not, what triggers establish when such gambling is subject to the laws and control of your jurisdiction?

Insofar as the services of an operator which is physically located outside the Spanish territory are offered in the Spanish territory or to individuals located in Spain, that foreign operator must comply with the applicable Spanish gambling regulations.

In such cases, the gambling activity of the foreign operator is deemed by the General Directorate for Gambling Regulation (DGOJ) to be taking place in Spain.

Only foreign operators from the European Economic Area can offer gambling services within the Spanish territory, insofar as they are duly licensed by the DGOJ.

4.2 Can foreign operators provide remote gambling services in your jurisdiction without obtaining a licence? Can licensed domestic operators provide services overseas?

Foreign operators cannot provide remote gambling services in Spain without first obtaining the corresponding licences from the DGOJ. Failure to do so constitutes a very serious infraction which is subject to:

  • fines ranging from €1 million to €50 million; and
  • disqualification from carrying out gambling activities in Spain for up to four years.

Although the remote licences in Spain are local, the Spanish regulations do not prohibit operators licensed to provide Spanish gambling licences from providing gambling services overseas.

5 Remote versus non-remote gambling

5.1 Does the gambling regime in your jurisdiction distinguish between remote and non-remote gambling? If so, how are these defined?

The gambling regime in Spain distinguishes between remote and non-remote gambling, as the applicable regulations, licensing regimes and even regulators for both activities are different. Remote gambling at the federal level is subject to the Spanish Gambling Act; it is regulated by the federal regulator (the General Directorate for Gambling Regulation) and subject to the federal licensing regime. Non-remote gambling is regulated by the relevant autonomous region and the regional gambling authorities, and is subject to the corresponding regional licensing regime.

5.2 Are there any restrictions on the media through which gambling can be provided (eg, internet/mobile telephony)?

There are no restrictions in this regard, as long as the necessary equipment, its technical integration and the relevant systems are duly certified and/or homologated from a technical perspective.

6 Licensing

6.1 What types of licences are available? Please consider: (a) Operators; (b) Activities (if relevant); (c) Premises; (d) Key individuals (if relevant) and (e) Equipment (if relevant).

Given the regulatory distinction in the Spanish gambling sector, the licensing regimes for online gambling and land-based gambling are different. In addition, in the case of land-based gambling, each autonomous region has its own regulations and licensing system with respect to its territory and competence.

(a) Operators

Gambling licences for operators are available at both the federal and regional levels.

(b) Activities (if relevant)

Although a gambling activity licence is closely linked to the operator’s licence, there are also activities licences per se, at both the federal and regional levels.

(c) Premises

Premises licences are available at the regional level.

(d) Key individuals (if relevant)

In Spain, there are no licences for key individuals.

(e) Equipment (if relevant)

There are no licences for equipment; instead, equipment must be duly certified by a testing house and homologated by the regulator at either the federal or regional level.

6.2 Which bodies award and oversee such licences?

Licences for online gambling at the federal level are awarded and issued by the General Directorate for Gambling Regulation (DGOJ), which is currently under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

For regional licences (land-based and online at the regional level), the body responsible for awarding and overseeing licences is the respective regional gambling authority which, in most cases, is under the umbrella of the regional departments of finance or interior.

6.3 What are the key features of such licences (eg, term/renewal/any limit on overall numbers/change of control)?

At federal level, general gambling licences are granted for periods of 10 years and are renewable for the same timeframe. Single licences are granted for periods of between two and five years (depending on the type of licence) and are renewable for the same timeframe. Land-based gambling licences are subject to specific regional regulation and will depend on the type of licence. Casino licences, for instance, are subject to a previous public call and are limited in terms of overall numbers. With regard to other types of land-based licences – for instance, for gaming halls or bingo halls – the key features are different by region.

6.4 What are the substantive requirements to obtain a licence (eg, company established in the jurisdiction/physical presence/capitalisation?)

The main requirements in order to obtain a general gambling licence in Spain to operate online at the federal level are as follows:

  • The operator must be a public limited company established in Spain or elsewhere in the European Economic Area;
  • It must have a minimum share capital of €60,000;
  • Its corporate purpose must be restricted to the organisation, commercialisation and exploitation of gambling or betting activities; and
  • If the company is based outside Spain, it must have a legal representative with a physical address in Spain.

The substantive requirements for land-based licences vary from one region to another and also differ depending on the specific type of licence.

6.5 What are the formal and documentary requirements to obtain a licence?

The documents needed in order to apply for a licence are divided into three groups, relating to the applicant’s legal, economic and technical solvency. The large list of documentation required for licensing purposes includes the following:

  • corporate documents concerning the applicant and the group of companies to which it belongs;
  • certificates confirming that the applicant is up to date with social security and tax agency payments;
  • the annual accounts of the applicant and its group;
  • its anti-money laundering and fraud policies;
  • its responsible gambling policy and business plan;
  • contracts with providers and technical projects; and
  • certification reports issued by authorised testing laboratories.

Also, operators must have a bank account opened in Spain for the purpose of protecting players’ funds.

6.6 What is the typical timetable for obtaining a licence?

The timetable depends on the type of licence and region. However, the average timeframe for licences to be reviewed and granted is approximately six months from submission.

6.7 What costs are typically incurred in obtaining a licence?

The application fees vary by region and type of licence. The application fees for a gambling licence at the federal level are:

  • €10,615 for each general and single licence;
  • €40,340 for the homologation of licences by the DGOJ; and
  • €2,650 for the inscription of each licence with the General Registry of Licences.

In addition, applicants must provide an economic guarantee for each general licence they are interested in applying for. In the case of general licences for betting and/or other games, the amount of this guarantee is €2 million per licence; in the case of the general licence for contests, the amount is €500,000. These amounts are payable only for the application of the licence and until the end of the year following grant of the licence. After this so-called ‘initial period’, the guarantees are recalculated based on certain legal percentages; in most cases, the new amount will be €1 million for all licences held by the operator, which is the minimum amount of the economic guarantee.

7 Ongoing compliance

7.1 What are the operator’s rights and obligations under the licence?

Licensed operators are entitled to operate and develop their activities under the scope of the licence granted. The holder of a general licence for online gambling is entitled to apply for a single licence under the umbrella of its general licence at any time; and the holder of a single licence has the right to provide the specific gambling product under the specific single licence.

Licensed operators are also subject to numerous obligations, including the following:

  • to operate under the scope of the licence;
  • to provide customers with all legally approved guarantees and safeguards;
  • to protect minors and vulnerable individuals;
  • to promote responsible gambling;
  • to operate in line with the principles of social responsibility; and
  • in general terms, always to comply with the gambling regulations.

In addition, operators have certain ongoing reporting obligations.

In addition to the gambling tax that must be paid by operators on a quarterly basis (ie, 20% of gross gambling revenue (GGR) for online gambling at the federal level, except for operators based in Ceuta and Melilla, which pay 10% of GGR), licensed operators at the federal level must submit to the regulator every quarter:

  • an official template containing activity data (eg, GGR per product, turnover, bonuses granted, new users, total deposits);
  • an official bank certificate showing the balance of the account in Spain that is exclusively dedicated to players’ funds; and
  • a report on accounts that have been blocked or cancelled by the operator during that quarter.

There are also some annual reporting duties and an annual fee of 0.075% on turnover.

7.2 Can licences be transferred? If so, how? What restrictions apply?

The transfer of licences is strictly prohibited, except where this results from an intragroup corporate reorganisation of the relevant operator – for example, a merger, spin-off/split-off/demerger or contribution of a business line (branch activity). In such cases, transfer of the licence is subject to the prior authorisation of the regulator, which will be granted only if the entities comply with all necessary requirements. This basically involves evidencing:

  • the effectiveness of the transfer; and
  • the financial, legal and technical suitability of the beneficiary company.

7.3 What requirements and restrictions apply to the different types of gambling facilities in your jurisdiction?

The types of gambling premises approved in the Spanish regulations are:

  • casinos;
  • betting shops;
  • gaming halls; and
  • bingo halls.

Each of the 17 regions in Spain and the two autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla have their own specific regulations, and consequently, specific requirements and restrictions apply to these different facilities.

Although the different regional regulations are generally similar in terms of the licensing and authorisation procedures, the applicable requirements and conditions vary from region to region.

In this regard, the requirements applicable to gaming halls are similar in all regions – for example:

  • there is no minimum share capital requirement; and
  • the economic guarantee required ranges from €30,000 to €60,000, depending on the region.

By contrast, the requirements applicable to casinos and betting shops vary significantly from one region to another – for example:

  • in Madrid, there is no minimum share capital requirement and he guarantee required is €12 million;
  • in Andalusia, the guarantee is €1 million and the minimum share capital required is €2 million; and
  • in Cantabria, there is no minimum share capital requirement and the guarantee required is €300,000.

8 Penalties and sanctions

8.1 What penalties and sanctions are available to the authorities for breach of the gambling legislation?

Following the regulatory distinction in the Spanish gambling sector, the different penalties and sanctions for breach of the gambling legislation are approved and foreseen by the Spanish Gambling Act and by the regulations of each autonomous region with respect to its territory and competence.

In general terms, sanctions are divided into very serious, serious and minor; and the associated penalties also vary depending on the severity of the sanction.

For very serious infractions, the Gambling Act provides for:

  • the imposition of economic fines of between €1 million and €50 million;
  • revocation of the licence;
  • temporary withdrawal of the licence for up to four years; or
  • the shutdown of media through which information society services are delivered that support the gambling activities.

Serious infractions can be sanctioned with:

  • economic fines of between €100,000 and €1 million; and
  • suspension of the activity for a period of six months.

Minor infractions can be sanctioned with fines of up to €100,000.

With regard to the regional gaming regulations, each region approves its own sanctioning regime; however, in most of them, very serious sanctions can be sanctioned with fines of up to €600,000 (the sanctions for land-based gambling are significantly lower than those for online gambling at the federal level). The regional regulators are also entitled to revoke or temporarily withdraw a licence.

9 Advertising and marketing of gambling

9.1 What requirements and restrictions apply to the advertising and marketing of physical and remote gambling in your jurisdiction? Do these vary depending on the type or location of the activity, or the medium through which it is carried out?

Most importantly, gambling-related advertising can only be carried out by licensed operators.

The most relevant restrictions and obligations, as set out in the recently approved Royal Decree 958/2020, on commercial communications for online gambling activities are as follows:

  • Gambling commercial communications carried through audio-visual media services can only be displayed between 1:00am and 5:00am;
  • Gambling-related advertising cannot be displayed on the internet, except on websites/apps devoted to offering information on gambling activities or on specific sections of websites/apps devoted to offering information on sporting or equestrian events;
  • Gambling-related advertising may be displayed on video sharing platforms, social networks and affiliated platforms only under specific conditions;
  • Sponsorship on shirts and sports equipment is prohibited;
  • Commercial communications cannot depict well-known persons or figures with public relevance;
  • Welcome bonuses and promotional activities for attracting new customers are prohibited; and
  • Promotions can only be offered to customers who have been registered with the operator for at least 30 days and who have been documentarily verified, and promotions-related advertising is restricted to certain cases.

Physical gambling-related advertising is subject both to the royal decree and to the regional regulations on gambling advertising. Consequently, it must comply with all requirements that the autonomous regions may impose in accordance with their regulations. However, advertising in gaming-focused printed media at the national level (or at sports facilities through a sponsorship agreement) is not subject to the regional regulations, but only to the principles of the royal decree.

The new royal decree has also tightened the gambling advertising regulations at the regional level. In this regard, most regions are in the process of adapting their regulations on physical advertising accordingly and are thus taking a more restrictive approach to gambling advertising, with some even prohibiting it altogether.

10 Consumer protection

10.1 What social responsibility obligations apply to land-based and remote gambling operators in your jurisdiction? Do these vary depending on the type or location of the activity, or the medium through which it is carried out?

The Spanish regulations require both online and land-based gambling operators to adopt comprehensive corporate social responsibility policies which recognise that gambling is a complex phenomenon, and which combine preventive, awareness-raising, intervention and control measures, in addition to measures to remedy any negative effects caused.

Preventive actions should focus on:

  • raising awareness;
  • informing and disseminating good gambling practices; and
  • highlighting the possible effects that inappropriate gambling practices can cause.

In this regard, gambling operators must draw up an action plan to mitigate the possible damaging effects of gambling, which incorporates the basic elements of a responsible gambling policy. In doing so, operators should:

  • pay proper attention to risk groups;
  • provide the public with the information needed to make a conscious choice about their gambling activities;
  • promote moderate, non-compulsive and responsible attitudes to gambling; and
  • inform the public of the prohibition against participation in games by minors and persons included in either the General Register of Gaming Access Bans or the Register of People Linked to Gaming Operators.

10.2 What other general consumer protection requirements are of relevance for gambling operators in your jurisdiction?

The consumer protection regulations in Spain are well developed; and instead of balancing the positions of consumers and companies, they are clearly tilted towards the (over)protection of consumers.

In addition to the provisions on social responsibility set out in the applicable regulations – in particular, those on responsible gambling – and those of the Consumer General Protection Act (which contains prolific provisions aimed at protecting the rights of consumers), the General Directorate for Gambling Regulation has issued guidance on the drafting of terms and conditions of gambling operators. This aims to reinforce the contractual position of consumers and to protect the governing principles of any gambling contract, as follows:

  • the principle of express acceptance;
  • the principle of legality;
  • the principle of information;
  • the principle of usefulness of the information;
  • the principle of liability;
  • the principle of interpretation of clauses; and
  • the principle of motivation of clauses.

11 Financial crime

11.1 How does the gambling regime interface with money laundering/terrorist financing/proceeds of crime legislation in your jurisdiction?

The anti-money laundering (AML) legislation has been slightly revised to accommodate certain needs arising from gambling activities in Spain, in both the remote and non-remote sectors. For instance, there is a mandatory trigger to verify the source of funds once a player reaches a €2,000 threshold, whether due to deposits or prizes.

However, the reality today is that the AML legislation and the gambling regulations should be updated to strengthen the powers and duties of gambling operators, given the subterfuges used by individuals seeking to launder money through gambling. There are a number of loopholes in the applicable provisions that, in our opinion, should be urgently closed in order to protect gambling operators, regular/legal users and the general interest in preventing laundering.

12 Non-gambling activities/social gambling

12.1 What specific activities, if any, are exempted from the gambling regime in your jurisdiction (eg, prize contests/sweepstakes/free prize draws/e-sports)?

Based on the definition of ‘gambling’ in Spain, the concept of gambling subject to licence requires the existence of three essential elements:

  • chance;
  • pay to play; and
  • a prize.

If one or more of these elements is missing, the product or activity will be exempt from the gambling regime and regulations.

Accordingly, games of pure skill fall outside the scope of gambling, as they do not involve a degree of chance; and prizes in contests, sweepstakes or prize draws are also exempt, as long as these are free and no economic contribution is required to participate.

12.2 How is ‘social gambling’ defined in your jurisdiction and how is it regulated (if at all)?

Social gambling is not regulated in Spain. However, the Gambling Act defines ‘social games’ as:

gambling or contests of pure leisure, hobby or recreation at federal level that constitute social practices that are traditional, familiar or friendly, provided they do not result in transfers economically assessable, except the price for the use of the means for its development, when this measure does not constitute any economic benefit to the developer or operators.

13 Disputes and legal enforceability

13.1 Are gambling contracts enforceable as a matter of law?

Generally speaking, pursuant to the Civil Code, gambling contracts are enforceable in the same way as any other contract.

The contractual relationship between a player and a gambling operator may be described as follows:

  • If a player wishes to register with an online operator or to access non-remote premises, he or she must:
    • expressly accept the general terms and conditions of the operator, in the case of remote gambling; or
    • tacitly accept the general terms and conditions of a non-remote operator by accessing its premises.

  • Once the player has accepted the operator’s general terms and conditions, each bet entails a specific betting contract.

The operator’s general terms and conditions are governed by the specific gambling regulations – which are totally focused on the protection of the rights of consumers – and the consumer protection regulations. Each specific betting contract is also governed by the provisions and principles of the Civil Code, which is the main statute – apart from the gambling regulations – that makes each of these individual betting contracts enforceable.

Hence, the enforceability of a betting contract will depend on compliance with basic Civil Code provisions. For instance, if a player tries to enforce a betting contract after the cancellation of a bet by the operator – perhaps because the player tried to obtain an advantage through a technical error from the operator, such as a late bet on which the player was able place a stake once the relevant event had already concluded – the court will need to decide on issues such as:

  • flawed consent (as the operator would never have agreed to enter into a betting contract without chance); or
  • contractual bad faith of the player (if it is proved that he or she knew the result or could have already known it).

13.2 In which forums are gambling disputes typically heard in your jurisdiction? What issues do such disputes typically involve?

Normally, gambling disputes are heard in the first-instance civil courts of the place of residence of the relevant player/plaintiff. Class actions, however, must be heard before the mercantile courts.

Disputes will typically involve the following issues:

  • stake factoring (risk measures applied by operators to the staking capacity of players where a potential risk is envisaged from the patterns of those players):
  • cancellation of bets due to potential or clear fraudulent bets (eg, stakes on late bets, stakes on mistaken odds/markets); and
  • early termination of contracts by the operator.

13.3 Have there been any recent cases of note?

The culture in Spain is considerably more litigious than in other European jurisdictions. However, given the amounts involved in gambling cases (normally under the threshold of €600,000), and the time that has elapsed since the main Gambling Regulation was approved in 2011, very few cases have reached the Supreme Court and could therefore be considered ‘of note’.

However, one prominent case involved a dispute over whether a gambling operator could cancel bets placed by a player because it had detected a computer error in the calculation of the odds offered, resulting in advantage of almost €3 million to the player. The player lost at first instance but succeeded on appeal. However, the Supreme Court overturned the appellate ruling, highlighting that it was evidenced that the player had acted in bad faith as he had placed 78 bets over four days at a cost of just €648, and with resulting winnings of nearly €3 million due to the operator’s technical error. For the Supreme Court, this “magnitude and disproportion” constituted “an abuse that the law cannot protect”.

14 Trends and predictions

14.1 How would you describe the current gambling landscape and prevailing trends in your jurisdiction? Are any new developments anticipated in the next 12 months, including any proposed legislative reforms?

Over the past two years or so, certain developments have prompted a change in legislative and regulatory trends in the gambling sector. They include:

  • political changes;
  • the movements of populist and left-wing political parties;
  • strong social pressure; and
  • anti-gambling campaigns.

These facts and trends have crystallised into restrictive gambling policies and rules.

Meanwhile, with regard to land-based gambling, a significant number of regional gaming authorities in Spain have decided to suspend or prohibit the grant of new authorisations to gambling halls and/or betting shops in their specific territory. Moreover, the town halls of certain cities in Spain which have traditionally been reluctant to allow such premises have established additional restrictions to those set out in the gambling regulations, making the authorisation process even more complex.

With regard to online gambling, in addition to the new royal decree on gambling advertising -which is now fully applicable in Spain although there is currently an unconstitutionality question raised before the Spanish Constitutional Court that should decide whether the regulation goes against the principle of legal reserve – a new regulation on responsible gambling is expected to be approved during the first quarter of 2023. It should also be pointed out that there is currently a legislative process in place aimed to regulate the loot boxes product. The prevailing trend in Spain is thus the protection of consumers through the imposition of new rules and restrictions on operators, resulting in an over-regulated market with excessive protection of consumers.

15 Tips and traps

15.1 What are your top tips for gambling operators in your jurisdiction and what potential sticking points would you highlight?

In light of the current political and regulatory circumstances, the best tip for operators is to ensure full compliance with the regulations, as any infringement could result in economic sanctions as well as other additional measures.

The prevailing trend in Spain reflects that in most other European jurisdictions, where the ‘golden days’ of the gaming industry seem to have ended and new regulatory restrictions are now commonplace. The rise of populist parties and the proliferation of ‘fake news’ informed the approval of a new advertising decree which, in practical terms, imposes an almost total ban on gambling advertising. The new decree on responsible gambling which should come into force mid 2023 will only make things more complex. Undoubtedly, these are the two sticking points that operators should bear in mind in the coming months.

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