Posted on: May 17, 2022, 06:31h. 

Last updated on: May 17, 2022, 09:14h.

Spain’s Directorate-General for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ, for its Spanish acronym) was busy last year. It shut down 13 web portals and imposed fines of more than €58 million (US$61.14 million) during 2021 for multiple violations.

Spanish flag
Spanish flags fly in front of the Palace of Communication. Spain’s gaming regulator is working diligently to eradicate gaming operators that violate the law. (Image: Shutterstock)

The DGOJ sanctioned a total of 19 operators in the online betting and gambling sector in Spain last year. Of these 19 resolutions, 13 were for very serious infringements. This means that those operators received a disqualification to offer their services in Spain for a period of two years.

The Gambling Regulation Law (LRJ) clearly lays out the penalties for violating gambling laws. For very serious infractions, 11 of the 13 “serious” offenders received fines of €5 million (US$5.27 million). The remaining two had to pay €1 million (US$1.05 million) each. In total, the fines in this chapter amount to €57m.

Million-Dollar Mistakes

The gaming regulator didn’t specify what the infractions were. However, it added that six other operators in the online betting and gambling sectors also received fines of over €1 million.

This is the first time that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has made public the final sanctioning resolutions. The sanctions are the result of changes following the latest amendment to the Gambling Regulation Law. The law establishes that serious and very serious infringements will be published on the website of the DGOJ once the interested parties receive notification.

The authorities described this action as “an exercise in transparency that makes it possible to know which web domains are sanctioned for serious or very serious infractions.” Among the infractions is the offering of gambling activities without a corresponding license. In addition, properties cannot allow access to games by excluded individuals. Allowing them to gamble while knowing of such exclusions is considered a serious or very serious offense.

Spain Gambling Regulations Tighten

At the national and the regional levels, Spain continues to tighten its gambling regulations. Several autonomous regions recently announced changes to their legal frameworks, and Navarre is adding its name to the list.

Navarre announced in March that it was working on gambling reforms. The Parliament of Navarre agreed to extend the deadline for the presentation of amendments to the proposal. Two political parties introduced the updates, and other parties had until 12 PM yesterday to present any amendments.

Those parties have publicly stated that they consider the proposed law insufficient. As a result, they shared with local media some of the 15 amendments they have formulated:

  • Prohibition of establishing gambling and betting machines in bars and restaurants. Only locations designated as gambling facilities can host them.
  • A new measure with more obligations in preventive matters aimed at companies in the sector.
  • The creation of a fund for the treatment of problematic and pathological gambling. Some 2% of the profits of gambling companies will provide revenue for the fund.
  • The extension of the prohibition of advertising to all companies in the gambling sector, and not only to betting companies, as set out in the proposed law.
  • The first deadline for the presentation of amendments ended on May 5. However, the extension was necessary to allow the political groups time to formulate their responses.

Navarre also envisions the introduction of mechanisms to control who has access to gambling devices. Much like the way cigarette vending machines in the country must be activated before consumers can use them, gambling machines may incorporate the same remote control access. However, if only specific gambling facilities can host the machines, that access becomes a moot point.

Navarre representatives will now review the input and might approve changes before the end of the summer.