A number of local governments in Spain continue to update their gambling regulations. The latest is the city of Palma de Mallorca, which will take a stricter stance on gambling facilities across the region.
Palma’s New General Plan, which the government initially approved last year, will prevent the opening of any premises within 500 meters (1,640 feet) of green areas. It also applies the same restriction to any teaching, health, care, sociocultural, multifunctional or sports facilities.
All gambling, bingo, casino and betting rooms are public establishments, with the same density restrictions as bars and restaurants. In other words, Palma could see a lot less gambling activity going forward.
Strict Rules on Gambling Locations
The new rules imply that the maximum density of all these establishments – gambling and betting shops, bars and more – allowed by the New General Plan is three in a radius of 50 meters (164 feet). They also limit to 30 meters (98 feet) three façades in this same radius (if bars, restaurants and game rooms are added). On the other hand, there cannot be two adjoining establishments.
Neus Truyol, the councilor of City Model, Decent Housing and Sustainability, recognizes the limitations the new rules will bring. He said, after a meeting of the Urban Planning Management Council, that “they make it very difficult both the implementation of new establishments and the expansion of existing ones.”
However, he supports the changes. Truyol has previously stated that he regrets seeing the expansion of gambling premises of the Plaza de Santa Payesa. The councilman added that the scope of the rules has been in discussion since first appearing in a council meeting in 2020.
Spain doesn’t have a critical rate of problem gambling. Some studies put the level at only 0.25%. However, as the global sentiment toward gambling and betting changes, it finds itself joining others in focusing heavily on responsible gambling.
Reducing Spain’s Gambling Footprint
Palma isn’t the first community to consider strict regulations like these. Across the country, autonomous communities are initiating efforts to cut back. Most recently, the Balearic Islands, to which Palma belongs, joined the group. Palma’s initiatives are even more restrictive than those of the community.
Three weeks ago, it decided to ban the opening of new gambling halls until attrition takes the number of these businesses to half of its current amount. The government, through the Ministry of Energy Transition and Productive Sectors, will modify the gambling law to achieve that goal. It established a moratorium on new licenses until the ratio of 140 gambling halls per million inhabitants drops to 75.
The goal is to lower the current density of gaming facilities. In Spain, according to government data, the average is 75, which is why the Balearic Islands chose this as the acceptable figure.
The government decreed its first moratorium between 2020 and 2022. This prohibited new facilities and included the suspension of new licenses. Then, last December, it approved a new moratorium to freeze new licenses for eighteen months. The objective was to be able to complete the replanning of the sector.
With the new moratorium from a few weeks ago, the government established an indefinite moratorium. However, once the total number of gambling facilities drops below 75, it will begin to consider new licenses on a case-by-case basis.
There are around 150 gambling and betting halls in the Balearic Islands, as well as around 5,000 slot machines. Five years ago, the community had the third highest number of gambling establishments in the country.
At the time, there were 116 per one million inhabitants. However, the number didn’t stop growing until the government implemented its new rules.
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