The Spanish autonomous community of La Rioja has approved new anti-gambling measures. Among a number of changes, the reforms include a provision that could ban sports betting in bars.
Spending time in bars while socializing with friends is a daily tradition for many in Spain. When there’s a soccer game, it’s even more popular. Toss in sports betting, and it can be a very entertaining evening.
La Rioja, a province and autonomous community in the north of Spain that is home to around 316,000 people, is going to remove some of that entertainment. New laws will drastically reduce the accessibility of sports betting options, and could prevent them from appearing in bars.
New Laws for a New Gaming Order
La Rioja’s Parliament has approved new gambling laws that, according to its supporters, will increase responsible gambling. The President of the Government of La Rioja, Concha Andreu, said yesterday that the new Gambling Law especially protects the most vulnerable from the social impact of gambling and promotes responsible behavior.
Article 34 stands out in the new regulations, adding requirements of gambling establishments. It states that the government will not approve operational licenses to facilities that are in the “sphere of influence” of educational centers of Compulsory Secondary Education, Baccalaureate, Basic Vocational Training and professional artistic education. This area of influence is set at 200 linear meters (656 feet), calculated radially between the two points.
Within the scope of the application of the law, advertising that incites online gambling is expressly prohibited. The advertising, promotion and sponsorship of games and bets are subject to authorization.
There are some exceptions. The government will allow certain activities that take place in closed forums and advertising by specialized gaming media, when the ads are only of an informative nature.
Andreu states that the new norms will allow the advance of regulations and the limitation of advertising and incitement to gambling. They will especially target the online segment. The reforms will promote stable and quality employment in a sector that employs some 1,700 people in La Rioja, and prevent the possible repercussions of gambling abuse on users and their families.
A Step to the Left
The new regulations comply with the provisions of the “Agreement for a Left and Progressive Government for La Rioja.” The government, under Andreu, is led by the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE, for its Spanish acronym). The PSOE also leads the national government under Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
The updated law’s fundamental objective is to protect the most vulnerable groups, the government asserts. It also wants to encourage responsible behavior and establish clear and precise limitations for new premises. It defines a series of good gambling practices, which allow responsible behaviors that avoid falling into abusive gambling and addiction.
More Regulations Coming
The new legislation includes a commitment to introduce a problem gambling prevention program. This must arrive within 12 months of the law’s entry into force. On the other hand, a more exhaustive regulation of the catalog of games and bets is coming. It will expressly include guidance for the shops and betting spaces and add new aspects to existing regulations.
In addition, the gambling reform includes a new classification of gambling machines. This, asserts the government, responds to the evolving online gaming space, and will include more prohibited games.
For the deputy of the PP (Popular Party), Alfonso Domínguez, “The only objective of this rule is to end a sector that employs 400 people in La Rioja and gives the public coffers €10 million ($11 million) per year.”
Additionally, the PP, which has historically been locked in a battle with the PSOE, states that the law does not contribute anything new. La Rioja already had measures in place for the protection of minors and people with pathologies, added Domínguez.
He pointed out to Parliament that the rules suffer from a lack of a real strategy for the protection of minors in the face of the new reality of online games. However, the die has been cast, and the PSOE sets the boundaries.
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