In a surprising turn of events, Spain’s newly appointed Minister for Social Rights and Consumer Affairs, Pablo Bustinduy, has announced his intention to reintroduce restrictions on gambling advertising. This move comes despite a recent Supreme Court decision that overturned several key measures outlined in a Royal Decree from 2020, which had imposed strict regulations on the industry.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in May 2023 marked the end of a period of tight control over gambling advertisements in Spain. The decision allowed operators to resume advertising their products, including special offers and promotions, and to utilize social media and celebrity endorsements for marketing purposes.

However, Bustinduy’s recent speech indicates that this era of relaxed regulations may be short-lived. The minister outlined his plans to propose legislation that mirrors the measures contained in the annulled Royal Decree, with a particular focus on limiting online ads and those featuring celebrities and influencers.

In addition to reinstating advertising restrictions, Bustinduy also intends to address issues that were not covered in the original decree. This includes tackling concerns around loot boxes and ID verification requirements in video games, which have been a topic of debate in the gaming industry. Furthermore, the minister aims to bolster Spain’s safer gambling initiatives by establishing a centralized player registry and monitoring younger players who display signs of gambling-related harm.

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Royal Decree came after challenges from industry groups, including the online gambling operator union Jdigital and the media group Asociación de Medios e Información (AMI).

These organizations argued that the decree’s restrictions were discriminatory, unjust, and disproportionate, particularly in a well-regulated online gambling environment. They also warned that such measures could inadvertently fuel the growth of illegal gambling operations and hinder efforts to protect vulnerable individuals.

Despite the opposition faced by the previous decree, Bustinduy’s determination to reintroduce advertising restrictions reflects a continued commitment to promoting responsible gambling practices and safeguarding consumers, especially youth, in the rapidly evolving world of online gambling.

As Spain navigates this complex landscape, it remains to be seen how the proposed legislation will balance the interests of the gambling industry, media outlets, and consumer protection advocates. The coming months will be crucial in determining the future of gambling advertising in the country and its impact on various stakeholders.

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