Supreme Court of Spain Overturns Restrictions on Commercial Gaming Ads

Supreme Court of Spain Overturns Restrictions on Commercial Gaming Ads

Spain’s Supreme Court has partially upheld an appeal against the Royal Decree 958/2020, seeking to remove restrictions placed on commercial gaming communications.

In November 2020, the Spanish Royal Decree 958/2020 on commercial gaming communications entered into force. The Decree sought to reduce minors’ exposure to gambling advertising in Spain by banning aspects such as sponsorship deals with operators.

The Spanish Digital Gaming Association (Jdigital) launched an appeal against the Royal Decree, and the appeal was rejected in November 2023 by the Spanish Constitutional Court.

However, Spain’s Supreme Court on reviewing the matter has now annulled several of the measures outlined in the Royal Decree, partially upholding the appeal.

RD Measures the Supreme Court Overturned.

Article 13, relating to “targeting advertising towards new customers”.

The Supreme Court verdict will allow Spanish operators to market to players who have had an account for less than 30 days. Operators can also advertise in establishments designated for the sale of lottery games and which are accessible by the public.

The verdict has also overturned Article 15, which prohibits the appearance of celebrities in advertising, has also been annulled.

Section 1 of article 23, and section 3 of article 25, which prohibited gambling adverts on video sharing platforms (such as YouTube), have been also annulled.

Additionally, Sections 2 and 3 of article 26 of the decree were also vetoed. This means that operators will be allowed to advertise on social media to all users over the age of 18.

Some Provisions of Royal Decree 958/2020

The RD restricted advertising on TV and radio, including on YouTube, to the hours of 1am to 5am. Operator brands were also limited to only targeting promotions towards existing social media followers.

There was also online age-gating, as well as the prohibition of promotional bonuses. This, however, was exempt if advertising was targeted to verified customers. In 2021, the use of celebrities in gambling advertising, as well as sport sponsorships was banned.

A new law was also passed in October 2022 to further restrict ads by restricting certain communications in advertising. This included references to social status, physical health, economic stability or mental health.

The depiction of money or luxury goods in advertising was also prohibited. It is also illegal to suggest that family and friendships should come second to gambling.

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The Supreme Court Ruling

In announcing its ruling against some of those measures, the Supreme Court said: “The ruling considers that advertising is part of the freedom of business and is subject to limits.

“However, such limits and prohibitions, insofar as they also affect the exercise of a lawful business activity, must have sufficient legal coverage, without being able to be regulated by independent regulatory standards unrelated to the criteria and limits set by the legislator

What the Supreme Court Didn’t Overturn

It is still prohibited for operators to advertise, or use branding for events, goods and services that can be viewed by minors.

Operators are still also banned from sponsoring sporting events or broadcasts.

Sponsorship activities that relate to a sports facility are also still prohibited.

Conclusion

Despite the numerous annulments, the decision not to scrap restrictions such as sport sponsorships and time limits mean Spanish operators are still unable to advertise completely freely.

However, Patricia Lalanda a partner at the Spanish law firm LOYRA Abogados which was part of the lawsuit, feels the Supreme Court’s overturned measures should be sufficient enough that it will not be in the interest of the gaming industry, or others affected to further attempt to go against the limitations still in force.

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