Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ), Spain’s main gambling regulator, has announced that former politician Mikel Arana will become its new Director General.
The appointment means that Juan Espinosa, the regulator’s current leader, will end his eight-year tenure at the DGOJ.
Arana is the Basque Government’s Economic Control Office auditor and is also a teacher at the University of the Basque Country.
According to reports, Arana’s appointment was ordered by Spain’s Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzón. Garzón’s responsibility is to revamp the country’s federal gambling laws.
When talking about the change in personnel, the DGOJ said the following.
“From the Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego, we thank Juan Espinosa for the work carried out over the years as well as the leadership in its management, which has managed to position the general direction as one of the international benchmarks in the sector.
“All the current team and general management wish him the best in this new stage.”
Garzón took office in January. In the past he had stated that, despite major gambling law changes, his department would continue with Espinosa’s DGOJ leadership structure.
Gambling restrictions in Spain have been getting tighter ever since the country’s PSOE-Podemos government came into power towards the end of 2019. It approved the Royal Decree on Advertising this year, in which strict gambling advertising limits were included.
Some of these were fast-tracked as part of coronavirus emergency regulations, which were passed towards the beginning of the country’s lockdown.
These laws were originally planned to come into force from the beginning of the 2020-2021 La Liga season. As a result, clubs’ gambling partners would have had a grace period to fulfill their existing partnerships.
The current La Liga season is planning to return in June, with players soon to report back to training. Spain’s government has approved this, following weeks of strict lockdown measures.
There are 11 games remaining for the 2019-2020 La Liga campaign, with Barcelona leading second-placed Real Madrid by two points.
Despite strict restrictions already being enforced, such as limited advertising windows, Garzón has previously said that the Royal Decree is just the ‘first phase’ of reforms to gambling in Spain.
Along with limited ad windows, operators are prohibited from email and social media marketing. Moreover, player bonuses are banned.