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The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has cautioned that the new ad restrictions in Spain could lead to an increase in illegal gambling, as well as a detrimental impact on the football clubs in the country.

Proposals by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs will see online gambling ads only allowed between 1 am-5 am, with no exceptions for sporting events, a complete ban on gambling sponsorship of sports uniforms, kits and stadiums, and a ban on welcome bonuses.

The state-involved lotteries of the world, which account for 65% of the revenue from the gambling industry, will be exempt from the key elements.

The government is scheduled to finalise the regulations in Autumn this year, with a three-month transition period for gaming firms to adapt to the law changes.

EGBA secretary general Maarten Haijer has explained: “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.”

The EGBA claims that unregulated gambling in Spain is already a problem, with 414 unregulated sites blocked in April-May alone this year by the country’s gambling authority.

The proposals will also have a negative impact on 41 of 42 football clubs in La Liga, which currently reel from COVID-19’s financial impact, costing them up to €80 million in lost advertising revenues.

“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,” Haijer stated.

“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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