The European Gaming & Betting Association is claiming that Spanish regulations and controls on betting advertisements are illegal under established European Union law, and are calling on the country's gaming regulator to amend the rules to fall into line.
Spain doesn't allow gaming operators to sponsor sports teams, and TV and radio spots are also highly limited, as they're permitted in the middle of the night. This has caused concern from the EGBA, who claims that the rules are illegal and thereby need to be amended or scrapped.
The EGBA cited a recent study from the University of Madrid that noted only 0.3% of the country's population has a gambling problem, one of the smallest numbers in the world. This small number means that the restrictions, while good intentioned, are fruitless and hurting business, according to the trade group.
Commenting on the matter EGBA Secretary-General Maarten Haijer said, "We urge the Spanish government to reconsider its advertising restrictions because there is a lack of data to support the measures and the granting of advertising privileges to state-run companies over private ones could potentially be in conflict with EU state aid rules.
"The restrictions clearly discriminate against private companies and favour the economic interests of the state-run lotteries, who are by far the country's leading advertisers in the gambling sector.
"And while EGBA fully supports responsible advertising, the scope and type of restrictions proposed are not justified by the evidence available, including the country's relatively low problem gambling rate and the significantly lower public awareness towards gambling advertising compared to other major advertising sectors."
No answer from Spain's gaming regulator was available as of press time.