Full application of Royal Decree 958/2020, of 3 November, on commercial communications for gambling activities.
On 31 August, a series of measures recognised in Royal Decree 958/2020 of 3 November on commercial communications for gambling activities came into force, prohibiting advertising and sponsorship of betting and gambling establishments. Previously, it should be noted that Royal Decree 958/2020, of 3 November, came into force on 4 November 2020, with the aim of pursuing and restricting the exposure of minors and other particularly vulnerable groups to commercial communications from betting and gambling companies, as well as showing these groups the risks that participation in these activities may entail. Since the entry into force of the aforementioned Royal Decree, a series of limitations and prohibitions have been established with regard to advertising, sponsorship activities and/or the promotion of games of chance and gambling operators. However, for those advertising and sponsorship contracts ex ante of the entry into force of the Royal Decree (4 November 2020), the legislator foresaw that the prohibitions relating to advertising, sponsorship and/or promotion would not apply until 31 August, in order to give the companies affected by said regulation sufficient time to adapt the different limitation and prohibition measures. Thus, the measures that came into force as of 31 August are as follows:
- Gambling advertising may only be broadcast on radio, television and through video exchange service providers (youtube, vimeo, etc.) between 1:00 and 5:00 a.m.
- Advertising by post is prohibited. In the case of e-mail, it will require the consent of the person concerned and in no case if the person has already developed risky behaviour.
- With regard to Internet advertising, operators must have tools in place to ensure that their advertising is not directed at minors and that they have mechanisms to block or hide advertisements. Likewise, operators may only carry out online advertising through their portals or social media profiles, provided that it is targeted at their followers and that they give their consent.
- With regard to sports sponsorship, the brands of gambling operators may not be displayed on kits or form part of the name of stadiums, teams or competitions. As regards live broadcasts from sports stadiums, gambling advertising may only be broadcast at the same times as other media.
- The image of celebrities or public figures may also not be used in gambling advertising outside the hours between 1:00 and 5:00 am.
- Welcome bonuses or promotions to attract new customers are prohibited, with the exception of verified customers.
- Companies or operators who fail to comply with any of the above measures will be considered to be in serious breach and may be fined between €100,000 and €1,000,000 and suspended from operating in Spain for a maximum period of 6 months.
It should be emphasised that these measures were already applicable to new advertising, sponsorship and/or promotional contracts signed by operators and companies after 4 November 2020, but not to those contracts signed prior to the entry into force of the Royal Decree, which had until 30 August to organise themselves in order to adjust to the aforementioned measures. In view of the above, a new scenario opens up for operators in the gaming sector, which in 2020 invested around €229 million in advertising and sponsorship and which therefore need to redesign their communication strategies, either through promotion outside Spain, as the prohibitions established in the Royal Decree do not exist, or through the cryptocurrency sector, where platforms allow fans of sports teams to buy tokens in exchange for exclusive promotions or discounts.