Recently, Spain’s Federation of Rehabilitated Gamblers and Madrid’s Association of Psychologists revealed findings which claim one in five Spanish teenagers between the ages of 14 – 21 are addicted to sports betting and other forms of gambling.

These troubling statistics place Spain as having the highest rate of teen gambling addiction when compared to its European counterparts. As a result, both these aforementioned organisations are calling on the Spanish authorities for stricter regulations to quash this alarming trend.

Spain is certainly not the only country in Europe in need of tackling the rise of gambling addiction, but why is it that so many of their teens are gambling and what is the country planning to do about it?

Proliferation of Betting Houses

Madrid’s regional government partly blames this concerning growth of problem gambling among this younger generation on the proliferation of betting houses around the country. According to the recent report, since 2013 Madrid has seen the number of betting houses increase by 300%. Furthermore, since 2016 alone, a total of 40 gambling establishments have opened their doors in the capital’s working class neighbourhoods of Vallecas, Ciudad Lineal and Usera.

These findings have led Spanish lawmakers to consider a ban which would prevent betting houses from setting up shop within a one hundred metre radius of schools and other educational centres. Although this may be seen as a step in the right direction, some experts believe that even if this safety perimeter regulation was in place, teenagers still have access to gambling online.

Online Gambling

Gambling online is undoubtedly another contributing factor to the issue, with easy accessibility to gambling options online being of great appeal to these young Spaniards. In fact, the most common way this age group gets hooked on gambling is on the internet, with sports betting and online poker being of particular interest to them.

Many see gambling advertising as having a central role to play in enticing in these younger gamblers. Currently online betting and gambling adverts are prolific across various platforms in Spain, including TV, radio and the internet. These ads are believed to be shown at all times of day, including during the morning children’s slot.

The central government wants to see this change, and proposals have been made to implement a restriction on gambling advertising, with some pushing for a full blanket ban, similar to the one in place in Italy.

If regulations are approved, Spanish gambling and betting companies would no longer be permitted from marketing on the television or radio, and would also be banned from advertising on the internet during certain times of the day. Banning celebrity endorsements and gambling brands’ exposure during sporting events have also been recommended.

The idea behind this ban isn’t a new concept in Spain. Back in May it was revealed that the Spanish government were already planning a crackdown on gambling advertising. However, in light of these new gambling addiction statistics, a more urgent emphasis has been placed on the need for these regulations to be imposed.

Next Steps

While it may not be the only European country dealing with an increase in problem gambling, the Federation of Rehabilitated Gamblers and Madrid’s Association of Psychologists believe that if Spain does not take action to tackle and curb this growing problem, it may well spiral out of control. They are of the opinion that gambling establishments, both land-based and online, need to be prevented from becoming the ‘norm’ among these Spanish teenagers.

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