Problem gambling in Spain is the lowest in Europe

by William Brown Last Updated
Problem gambling in Spain is the lowest in Europe

The Spanish government’s strict rules on online gambling marketing have been called into question, with the country continuing to boast low problem gambling rates.

Calvin Ayre reports the release of the Gambling and Society 2020 market study, which represents Spain’s private ambling operators, repeated roughly 85 per cent of the population aged 18 to 75 engaged in some form of gambling last year, a figure that has been constant since 2015.

Lottery products are the most popular, with the annual Christmas draw enjoying 74.5 per cent participation.

Around 3.5 million Spaniards enjoyed scratch cards, up from 3 million in the 2019 report.

This product also boasts the largest share of players under 35 years.

Some 2.2 million people or 6.5 per cent of the population visited a local casino last year, down from 7.2 per cent in 2018, the lowest rate since 2016.

Bingo halls also saw fewer visitors, falling two points from 2019 to 6.9 per cent or 2.4 million.

Gaming halls fared slightly better, dipping only 0.1 points to 3 million.

Retail sports betting was also on the decline, with the number of Spaniards who visited a betting shop falling 0.5 points to 3.7 per cent, or 1.3 million people.

Among the significant findings of the report was the fact that just 0.3 per cent of Spain’s gamblers are deemed to be problem gamblers.

This ties Spain with Sweden for the lowest rate in Europe.

The 2019 data predates the coronavirus pandemic, which was the catalyst for the strict new online gambling marketing restrictions imposed.

These restrictions encompass everything from television and radio ads to sports sponsorships and deposit bonuses.

The new rules were supposed to take effect in October.

On October 22, Spain’s Minister for Consumer Affairs told the Senate the new rules would take effect “in a few weeks” and would spell and end for “the law of the jungle”.

The Minister also noted that his campaign against the gambling sector “does not end by prohibiting advertising”, and that other curbs were in the works.

Spain reports first quarter online gambling spike

Spain’s online gambling market reported double-digit growth in the first quarter of 2020, Calvin Ayre reported in July. 

All gaming verticals are reporting strong year-on-year improvements.

Figures released last week by Spain’s DGOJ regulatory body show locally licensed online operators generated revenue of just under 218 million euros in the three months ending March 31.

This is a 12.5 per cent increase from the same period last year and 17.6 per cent better than the final quarter of 2019, which suffered negative growth.

Sports betting remains the dominant vertical with revenue of 110.6 million euro in quarter one, up 8.6 per cent year-on-year and nearly a quarter higher than the fourth quarter of 2019.

In-play betting revenue increased four per cent to 61.3 million euro, despite in-play turnover falling 18.5 per cent year-on-year.

Pre-match wagering mirrored this pattern, with revenue rising 13.1 per cent to 46.3 million euro, despite turnover falling 10 per cent.

Casino revenue was up 8.3 per cent year-on-year to 77.6 million euro, thanks to strong growth in slots, which were u 15.7 per cent, live roulette, up 35.6 per cent and traditional roulette up 16.7 per cent.

On the flip side, blackjack revenue was down 17.1 per cent to 5.3 million euro, while baccarat was off nearly 80 per cent to just 614,000 euro.

Online poker revenue jumped 13.1 per cent year-on-year to 24.2 million euro as tournaments improved by nearly 16 per cent to 16.1 million euro.

Cash games rose a respectable 8 per cent to 8.1 million euro.

Both tournament fees (up 30.7 per cent) and cash games stakes (up 22.8 per cent) reported solid year-on-year growth.

As for the market’s lesser lights, bingo was up 14.7 per cent to 3.7 million euro, while the contests segment doubled year-on-year to 1.9 million euro.

Spanish-licensed operators spent 118.2 million euro on marketing during the first quarter, up 28.3 per cent for the same period last year.

Advertising spend rose nearly a quarter to 59.9 million euro, while bonus offers jumped 46 per cent to 42.4 million euro.

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