Spanish gambling companies are criticizing the ad ban. The UK is implementing new loot box regulations. In the meantime, Lithuanian operators are confused with recent ad-related fines. Bulgaria is privatizing the state-owned gambling sector. And Ireland is investigating online gambling licensing.
Spanish operators challenge gambling ads ban
Spain's strict policy regarding gambling advertising in sports and media has faced a severe backlash. Gambling operators believe that the "Garzón Law" that has been regulating this field since autumn 2021 is unconstitutional. Therefore, they filed an appeal with the Supreme Court to review this statutory provision.
If the court finds that the royal decree violates the constitutional rights of gambling companies, it will lose the legal basis for regulating advertising in this business. Additionally, the court may also limit the government's ability to restrict any ads, including gambling ones strictly. For now, Spanish operators can show ads between 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM only. And in case of violation of this and other rules, they can lose up to €1 million in sanctions.
The UK postpones loot box ban
After a lengthy consultation period, the UK authorities have decided that they will not equate video game loot boxes with gambling and ban this game mechanic entirely. Instead, the government plans to implement several key restrictive measures to protect minors from financial consequences.
Authorities fear that loot boxes could cause children and teenagers to become addicted to gambling. Given this, they want video game companies to implement stricter spending limits and revise their refund policies. Also, these studios will have to provide players and their parents with more information about different loot box variations and minimize the risks when purchasing such items. In addition, the government wants the companies to create mechanisms to protect the players who spend the most money.
Confusion in the Lithuanian gambling advertising segment
After the Lithuanian Parliament banned the use of promotions in the gambling sector in 2021, some of the country’s operators received severe fines and license suspension warnings. Initially, the authorities argued that the legislative change was aimed at protecting players from inducements. But in reality, companies face legal consequences for any gambling ads.
The issue is that the government fines operators even for advertising that is considered legal in countries with stricter gambling regulations. Since the Gaming Control Authority failed to explain to companies which promotions are prohibited, they are forced to act based on their assumptions. One of the Betsson brands Betsafe has already received a €25 000 fine due to a promotional newsletter for an online game. Several other operators also got controversial fines and reprimands. So, if the Lithuanian regulator does not specify its idea of illegal gambling advertising, numerous companies will fall victim to this confusion in the near future.
Bulgaria to privatize the state-owned lottery and betting company
The Bulgarian government continues to privatize large state organizations, and now, it has focused on the state-owned lottery and betting company. As a result, the Bulgarian Sports Totalizator (BST) will become a joint stock company, which may cause some reasonable controversy.
In case of privatization, the Sports Ministry will no longer be able to fund sports initiatives in schools directly through BST and its Toto BG brand. In 2021, the totalizator sent roughly €21.5 million to the ministry and spent about the same amount on the state license fees.
In light of these facts, the ITN party has every reason to oppose the privatization project. It proposed a bill allowing 1 500 new Toto BG betting shops to open. The party wanted to implement this idea so that the totalizator would transfer even more money to finance school sports and culture. Therefore, ITN will certainly criticize the privatization reform.
Ireland investigates licensed online gambling case
The Irish authorities have discovered that some slot operators and online casinos are getting legal permission to promote their services in the country. While sports betting platforms are allowed here, other gambling formats are considered illegal. Considering this, the Irish Road Haulage Association and a legislator in the lower house of parliament in Ireland, Verona Murphy, are outraged that the government is issuing licenses for sites that have nothing to do with betting.
According to legislative amendments in 2015, Irish gamblers got access to sports betting. However, some operators use this provision as a loophole that allows them to promote online gambling to the Irish. To find out how exactly these companies managed to obtain licenses through the revenue department of the Irish Government, Murphy launched an investigation at the ministerial level.
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