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Updated Gambling advertising regulation in Spain and Belgium

Two of the states that regulated online gaming earlier in the decade, decided to follow United Kingdom’s and Italy’s example in setting strict advertising rules for operators that have moved into the market. In fact that comes only months after the full advertising ban that has been approved by the Italian government, which plans to prohibit gaming related messages and ads, effective June 2019.

In Belgium, the local government decided to reduce the time frame throughout a 24 hour day, when gaming related ads can be aired on TV and radio. Moving forward, gambling messages can only be aired at latest 15 minutes before the start of the live coverage of a sport event or  at earliest 15 minutes after it has been concluded. Also, sports betting, casino and poker ads can’t be aired before 8pm local time, at any given day of the week.

In Spain, the authorities – after consulting with the local watchdog – decided that Gambling should be treated similarly to smoking when it comes to advertising and marketing regulation. Moving forward the local authorities can decide on very strict measures that will potentially even ban advertising completely, since smoking advertising has been banned in the country since 2005. That would come as a shock to the local advertising market, since betting and casino companies are among the biggest spenders for the country’s media . Watching a La Liga game over the weekend is enough evidence on the dependency that local media have on the budget spent by gaming firms.

After the very strict rules set by the Greek gaming authorities and the ASA in the United Kingdom, three more countries seem decided to change the game for those companies that have paid more than just a handful of money to acquire local licenses. That raises the question whether the license holders are entitled to a refund on all or some of the money they have paid in taxes, since both the profits and the marketing spend of each one of them is heavily taxed in these geographies.

Some regulated operators consider also a possible legal action, since on one hand the regulatory bodies attempt to reduce the amount of advertising but on the other hand they do little to stop the activities of operators who keep promote or even offering their services without a license. This argument has gained more ground recently, after the black list that has been compiled in a number of markets has proved extremely ineffective, with many providers simply re-directing their URLs to go around the ban on their primary domains.

Companies like bet365, william hill, 888 and other high profile operators, often have a good excuse in filing complaints against governments that do little to secure a fair play for those who pay taxes to the state. Its an ongoing war that despite efforts from the countries’ administrations to control the game, it looks very likely that will get out of hand shortly. And noone knows if casino players are coming out stronger out of this.

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