Spain’s Supreme Court Strikes Down Gambling Advertising Restrictions

The Spanish Supreme Court (TS) has rendered a number of clauses in a royal decree that sought to control gambling advertising illegal, marking a significant legal milestone. The ruling represents a turning point in the nation’s regulatory environment and was motivated by worries about the lack of legal basis for several limitations.

Key provisions of the royal decree, such as those concerning celebrity appearances in advertisements, promotional efforts for new clients, and a general ban on commercial communications through information society services, were declared invalid by the High Court’s decision. Furthermore, limitations on social media and video-sharing platform advertising were lifted.

Legal Basis Scrutinized

The court’s decision stems from a partial acceptance of an appeal filed by the Spanish Digital Gaming Association against the regulatory framework introduced in November 2020. Judges of the Contentious-Administrative Chamber highlighted the decree’s lack of sufficient legal basis, particularly in imposing restrictions on advertising aimed at attracting new customers.

The court held that it was excessive to exclude certain advertising techniques generally without focusing on certain detrimental groups. Limitations on the use of celebrities in commercial ads were also seen to be overly restrictive and to be unsupported by law.

The court affirmed clauses meant to safeguard consumers and promote responsible gambling, while nullifying several other articles. It validated the use of consumer welfare messaging regarding the negative impacts of gambling in commercial communications as a justifiable strategy. In keeping with its commitment to promote responsible gaming, the court also approved the deployment of procedures to identify and curtail harmful activity.

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