Spain problem gambling rate among lowest in the world

Operators argue the study shows there is no gambling problem in Spain.
Operators argue the study shows there is no gambling problem in Spain.

A new study finds the country has a problem gambling rate of just 0.3 per cent. 

Spain.- A new study has suggested that Spain has one of the lowest problem gambling rates in the world.

The research by the University Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M) found that despite 84.9 per cent of the population taking part in some form of gambling annually, the problem gambling rate was just 0.3 per cent.

It comes as Spain prepares to introduce tight new restrictions on gambling advertising and promotions, including a ban on sports sponsorship.

Minister of consumer affairs, Alberto Garzón, has said that Spain is leading the way and that he expects other countries to follow the move.

The study from UC3M found that the majority of the Spanish population plays in draw-based lottery games run by the publicly owned Sociedad Estatal Loterías y Apuestas del Estado (SELAE) and Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles (ONCE) lotteries. 

Compared with previous years’ data, the overall number of gamblers has decreased. Over 90 per cent gambled in some form before the 2007 economic crisis. 

The survey found that in 2019, 25.8 million played the “El Gordo” Christmas lottery; 14.5 million played the January 6 “El Niño” lottery; and 14 million played Primitiva lotteries. 

ONCE’s scratchcards are the fastest growing product, with 8.5 million players, or 9.9 per cent of the population, having purchased one in the last year. More than half of those were aged under 35.

Meanwhile, 6.5 million play games offered by private operators at casinos, bingo halls, arcades, and online:  2.2 million play in casinos, 2.4 million in bingo halls, 3 million in gaming rooms and 1.5 million on type B arcade machines installed at hospitality venues. 

The survey found that 5 million gambled online in 2019. The total online spend of €800m per represents just 7.7 per cent of all gambling. Only 300,000 gambled online regularly – 0.9 per cent of the adult population.

Professor of sociology at UC3M, José Antonio Gómez Yáñez, said: “Gambling is subject to much debate, like many productive activities, which emphasises the need for this type of study which provides an objective view, based on data, for public opinion, administrations and the media.

“It is about offering real and updated data on gambling as part of the habits of Spanish society.

“It must be said that the vast majority of those who play do so responsibly, they know that it has a cost, like entering a show.” 

Alejandro Landaluce, chief executive of industry association Consejo Empresarial del Juego (Cejuego), said the study demonstrated that gambling was not a  problem in Spanish society.

He said: “Governments are increasingly concerned about a potentially inappropriate level of gambling participation in society and we, as representatives of the sector, share these concerns.

“For this reason, we support this type of scientific study that allows us to know the reality of social behaviour towards gambling, beyond individual or collective perceptions, in order to act in those areas that are necessary within our responsibility.”

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