Alberto Garzon, consumer affairs minister of Spain, has unveiled the plans for a crackdown on advertising by gambling companies and casinos.
The proposals are an attempt by Garzon’s left-wing Unidas Podemos party to make good on its campaign promise to protect youth and gambling addicts, having formed a coalition government with the Socialist Party in January.
The government aims to reduce television gambling advertising by as much as 80% and ban companies from hiring celebrities to market gambling products and services.
“The regulation has to be similar to tobacco. We are not regulating the textile sector here, but a sector that has an impact on public health,” Garzon said.
The new proposals also include a ban on marketing that offers the likes of free bets to new customers, which Garzon said lures vulnerable groups into gambling.
Government data shows that online betting by Spaniards has almost tripled between 2014 and 2018 to 17.8 billion euros ($19.2 billion).
Sports betting is now so strong that almost all leading Spanish soccer clubs, including Barcelona and Real Madrid, feature gambling brands among their official sponsors. Among those with gambling companies as official shirt sponsors are Levante, partnered by Betway.
The government plans to prevent soccer clubs from selling to children jerseys emblazoned with gambling brands, but its proposals stop short of a total ban on such logos on professional teams’ official kits.