The Government has asked the European Commission to urgently process its green light for the new draft decree that plans to practically ban advertising from bookmakers, given the possibility that “point outbreaks” of the coronavirus force new confinements of the population like the one requested by the Generalitat de Catalunya on Friday to the residents of Barcelona and its metropolitan area.
The Executive expects that in the best of cases the new Royal Decree on Commercial Communications for Gambling Activities will be in force in early autumn. To do this, he argued before Brussels that the pandemic has made the Spanish population more vulnerable to gambling as a way to “solve economic problems” after the “extraordinary increase in unemployment” that the great seclusion has generated.
In the urgent reason that he has presented before the European Commission to process the project sent by the Ministries of Consumer Affairs and Economic Affairs, the Executive explains that there is a “high probability of adopting limited measures of social isolation aimed at avoiding the potential spread of the disease “if” point outbreaks “of the coronavirus occur.
“These measures will necessarily imply periods of greater residence time and, consequently, an increase in the probability of greater exposure to advertising” that “will seriously affect” the groups that the decree wants to protect: vulnerable groups and minors, indicates the Government.
Thus, the emergency procedure is based on “the existence of a serious and unpredictable situation related to the protection of people’s health” and on a reason of “public order”, the protection of minors. In his last parliamentary appearance, the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzón, explained, to give an idea of the “seriousness of the problem” of the exposure of minors to advertising messages during confinement, that “children between 4 and 12 years old have increased its television consumption almost 50% during the state of alarm “.
“Extraordinary” increase in unemployment
As the Government explains to Brussels, “the pandemic situation caused by COVID-19 has affected the social conditions in which the consumption of games of chance occurs in Spain.” “In particular, the serious economic consequences derived from the necessary measures adopted to contain this disease” have increased “the economic vulnerability of society as a whole, as a consequence of the extraordinary increase in unemployment produced.”
This leads to “a greater probability of adopting gambling behaviors aimed at solving economic problems” and “an increased risk of the emergence or worsening of problematic or pathological gambling behaviors”.
The project was submitted to the Commission on July 9. Brussels has a period of fifteen days from that date to decide whether to process it urgently. With this, the decree would be in force in early autumn, as recently explained the director general of the Game, Mikel Arana: “If you understand for your report that this procedure is appropriate because of COVID-19, we would be talking about early autumn to approve in the Council of Ministers. If we are not granted the emergency procedure and apply the usual term, which is usually three months, we would be talking about the end of autumn. ”
The project is much more restrictive than the one that appeared in February. Prohibits the advertising of bookmakers except in the early morning strip and without exceptions for football, online with what was initially announced and as established by the regulations that were in force exceptionally during the alarm state. The companies of the game assure that with this new decree they are discriminated against in favor of public game State Lotteries and ONCE, which may continue to advertise at any time, although with restrictions on their advertising messages.