Spain’s gambling regulator, the General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ, for its Spanish acronym), recently received bad press for not keeping up with its reporting responsibilities. It has now taken corrective measures, publishing an updated list of recent violators that includes Codere, 888, and others.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, to which the DGOJ reports, sanctioned 53 online gaming operators in the first half of 2022. Twenty-one received “very serious” infractions, which means that they were disqualified for two years and had their web pages shut down, as per Spain’s Gambling Regulations Law.
Alberto Garzón, the Minister of Consumer Affairs, has been targeting the gaming industry since changes in the law gave him oversight. However, his efforts to focus on problem gambling might have a different goal in mind.
Cleaning Up Spanish Gaming
Famagousta, Purple rain NV, Abundantia, BV, and Momus20006 NV are just a few of the companies that received fines for “very serious” violations, according to the list on the ministry’s website. Combined, they owe the government €84.3 million (US$86.62 million) in fines.
Violations that fall into the “very serious” category cover issues such as operating in the country without a license. There were only 11 companies listed in this category last year.
Other companies, including Codere, Betfair, and 888Sport, received “serious” violations. These are infractions that include not adhering to certain responsible gambling procedures, such as preventing self-excluded gamblers from gambling.
The cost of these fines will be more than €4 million (US$4.11 million), according to the ministry. Codere had previously received a similar sanction, and acknowledged that it will take a financial hit as a result of the latest fine.
The updated Gambling Regulations Law changed, among other things, the obligation of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to make public all sanctioning resolutions. In addition, the reform, which came into force last October, strengthened control over the manipulation of sports competitions and betting fraud. It also expanded the protection of players at risk and the prevention of addictive behaviors.
The Ministry’s Ulterior Motives
Garzón’s almost single-minded focus on the gaming industry is, according to him, an attempt to prevent problem gambling in the country. According to most studies, that is a non-issue affecting less than 1% of the country’s population.
A study from two years ago put the “problem gambling” segment at just 0.25% of the entire population. Other studies have found Spain’s gambling industry to be the safest in all of Europe.
Therefore, the reasons behind Garzón’s actions are thought to have a different explanation, which could be about money.
Less than a year ago, Garzón told Spaniards that gambling is harmful and that they needed to stay away from Codere and other operators. In the same breath, he told them that they should play the lottery. The government controls the lottery, which means it receives all of the revenue, unlike private gaming operators.
Playing the lottery is a form of gambling, just like any other. To Garzón, it’s a “healthy game.”
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