Spain continues to witness a transformation of its gambling industry. The autonomous community of Madrid is at the forefront of most new rules and added some more changes this week.
The Governing Council of Madrid approved new guidance for certain gambling establishments covering gambling halls and sportsbooks on Wednesday. The new rules will enter into force this month after they are published in the Official Gazette of the Community (BOCM, for its Spanish acronym).
Enrique Ossorio, the Minister of Education, Science and Universities and a government spokesman, said that the new rules will protect youth and those susceptible to problem gambling. Speaking at a press conference, he added that several changes will help ensure compliance with responsible gaming initiatives.
The Madrid Government set a minimum distance of 300 meters (984 feet) between gaming businesses, applicable to new license approvals. There cannot be more than 1% of new licenses than those already existing on December 31 of the previous year.
The new measures also establish special protection zones for properties less than 100 meters (328 feet) from an educational center, including schools and training facilities. One provision requires the gaming properties to strengthen admission controls.
Credits, Loans Prohibited
In addition, no more than one license may be granted per locality. The city of Madrid is the exception – it will allow up to two new licenses each year.
Gaming facilities and their owners will also not be able to offer their customers credit, loans, cash, or other financial assistance. The limitation is allegedly a measure of protection for consumers, as it will reduce the possibility of impulsive gambling.
The new Madrid decree also includes instructions to prevent minors and people registered in the Registry of Interdictions (the gambling exclusion list) from placing bets at horse race betting kiosks.
In parallel to the approved regulations, the Governing Council recently included in a so-called Omnibus Law the reform of the Gambling Law. This will modify the sanctioning regime to reconcile the protection of those most prone to gambling addiction. The bill is already in the hands of the regional Legislative Assembly,
Madrid Gaming Strictly Controlled
Madrid operates under strict gambling laws that have added more changes recently. The autonomous community’s gambling and betting venues have the most restrictive opening hours in the country. In addition, since the end of 2019, the regional government has suspended opening new establishments.
There are about 700 authorized gambling establishments in Madrid, among which are 32 bingo halls and four casinos. Most of the businesses in the sector are located in the city of Madrid.
In 2020, the regional government activated a new Inspection Plan for access to betting premises. The goal was to introduce an exhaustive control of compliance with gaming regulations. It will also control the access of consumers to the properties and offer greater protection to minors and vulnerable groups.
In addition, the regional executive branch approved the allocation of 0.7% of the tax collection from gambling for policies for the prevention and treatment of gambling. In real terms, this amounts to around €1.2 million ($1.31 million) annually.
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