How the Spanish market is tackling problem gambling

Many believe that legislation and technology should be playing a key role in tackling problem gambling, and in recent years the Spanish authorities have been prioritising their player protection measures.

Mikel López de Torre, Chairman of Spanish gambling trade organisation Jdigital, explained that the Spanish regulation has developed its policies with the protection of its players in mind.

He said: “It is very important to point out that the Spanish regulation is actually one of the best out there. It has pioneered some of the actions in the protection of problematic gamblers and vulnerable groups. If you go back ten years ago, when we saw the first draft of Spanish regulation, there was almost an outrage among operators because it was far too restrictive at the time.

“Clients and customers had to specify their tax residency, which in Spain means that you will be passing on information to the tax agency, which hasn’t always been welcomed easily by customers. We have real-time ID verification, which is something that has never happened before. It gives real time identification of problem gamblers, which are then put on a registered list by the government. We have pre-set deposit limits, self-assessment tests before being able to raise those limits. Since then, we are seeing a lot of other initiatives from the regulator.”

López de Torre explained that the successes of the Spanish legislation have been replicated in markets around the world. He continued: “A lot of decrees have been passed in recent years, putting the Spanish regulation ahead of other markets. And actually, most of those initiatives have been replicated in other regulated markets around the world.

“From a problem gambling-prevention standpoint, the Spanish regulation is way ahead and has pioneered the field. That means that if you look at the actual problem gambling figures in Spain, you see that according to the government, only 0.3 per cent of the public in Spain suffer from problem gambling behaviours, which is one of the lowest in the entire world. What we do have is perception among the public that this problem is a lot bigger than it actually is.

“In that sense, there are several measures that we can take proactively as an industry – one of them being the maximisation of the tools that we get from advertising such as the self-regulation regime that we have today. And clearly, we have the implementation of all of the technology measures that allow us to get ahead of the problem. We have worked towards detecting problematic gambling before it develops, through artificial intelligence and other technology alike.”

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