In Internet. On television In football stadiums. And, for a few months, in your own neighborhood. The sports betting houses have left the network and now expand through the streets of cities like Madrid. A trend that has ignited the alarms of associations of neighbors and political parties. Especially since there is the certainty that the new chance and its sports package is attracting thousands of young people.
The reality of the sector goes by neighborhoods. According to the data provided by the Community of Madrid, the number of specific places of sports betting has quadrupled in the last five years. In Andalusia, the growth in the number of gaming halls this year is around 23% thanks to this new method of betting. Meanwhile, this type of game is still practically non-existent in regions such as Extremadura.
We must bear in mind that the sector has developed around a complex and heterogeneous regulation. While the digital part of the game is in the hands of the State, the activity that is developed in person is controlled by the autonomous communities. As a result, there are territories in which the game has been banned until relatively recently. In others, it is practically liberalized. Madrid is in this last group.
For example, in the capital It is not necessary to leave a minimum space between one betting house and another. A circumstance that, according to the representatives of the sector, has encouraged the growth of sports betting franchises in certain neighborhoods.
Alejandro Landaluce, general director of the employers' association Business Council of the Game (CeJuego), affirms that in these cases there is a «called effect» that drives a certain «concentration» of houses in certain areas. In addition, it recognizes that sports betting attracts more young users because "they are more appetizing than others for them". But discard that this boom is something dangerous. «The average bet is 6 euros. It can not be considered that there is a growing problem of pathological gambling in Spain. 99.5% of the people who play do so responsibly, "explains Landaluce.
Does this mean that Spaniards play more now? According to Landaluce, no. The CEO of CeJuego points out that in the last decade the sector has been reduced by 24%. "It is true that sports betting has grown strongly, but many bingo halls have also closed," he explains.
That is to say, digital modalities are gaining ground to the detriment of the more "traditional" segments, although they still represent a 6% of this particular industry. Proof of this growth is that the number of players (individuals who play) and users (accounts that use these players) have doubled in the last five years, according to figures from the General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ). . However, the "online" version of the game still represents 6% of this particular industry.
Mikel López de Torre, president of Jdigital, says that many betting companies have been established in our country for years. In addition, criticizes that proposals such as the one made by Podemos recently reflect that "there is a great lack of knowledge about the sector". The purple formation has claimed to create a special tax for the betting houses and to prohibit their publicity. «We already pay special taxes for our activity. And companies in the sector can not deduct VAT, for example, "says López de la Torre. All in all, last year the Game Gambling Tax, which taxes digital bets, was lowered by five points.
The arguments of the gaming sector, however, do not convince collectives such as neighborhood associations. This week, the Regional Federation of Neighborhood Associations of Madrid (Fravm) has held a meeting to demand that the community toughen regulations on sports betting houses. "The regulation is from the year 2001 and is outdated. In addition, it is not being fulfilled, because many establishments allow minors to enter, something that is forbidden, "explains Silvia González, member of the association. "It is a social problem whose impact will be visible in a few years," he adds.