Codere, 888 and Other Gaming Operators Fined by Spain’s Regulator

By | November 22, 2022

Spain’s gambling regulator, the General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ, for its Spanish acronym), recently received bad press for not keeping up with its reporting responsibilities. It has now taken corrective measures, publishing an updated list of recent violators, among which are Codere, 888 and others.

Gaming operator Codere
A sign for gaming operator Codere sits on top of its offices. The company and others face fines for violating Spanish gaming laws. (Images: The Objective)

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, to which the DGOJ reports, hit 53 online gaming operators in the first half of 2022. 21 received “very serious” infractions, which means that they were disqualified for two years and their web pages are closed, as per Spain’s Gambling Regulations Law.

Alberto Garzón, the Minister of Consumer Affairs, has been targeting the gaming industry since changes in the law gave him oversight. However, his efforts to focus on problem gambling might have a different goal in mind.

Cleaning Up Spanish Gaming

Famagousta, Purple rain NV, Abundantia, BV and Momus20006 NV are just a few of the companies that received fines for “very serious” violations, according to the list on the ministry’s website. Combined, they owe the government €84.3 million (US$86.62 million) in fines.

Violations that fall into the “very serious” category cover issues such as operating in the country without a license. There were only 11 in this category last year.

Other companies, including Codere, Betfair and 888Sport, received “serious” violations. These are infractions that include not adhering to certain responsible gambling procedures, including preventing self-excluded gamblers from gambling.

The cost of these fines will be more than €4 million (US$4.11 million), according to the ministry. Codere had received a similar sanction previously, and acknowledged that it was going to take a financial hit as a result.

The updated Gambling Regulations Law changed, among other things, the obligation of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to make public all sanctioning resolutions. In addition, the reform, which came into force last October, strengthened control over the manipulation of sports competitions and betting fraud. It also expanded the protection of players at risk and the prevention of addictive behaviors.

The Ministry’s Ulterior Motives

Garzón’s almost single-minded focus on the gaming industry is, according to him, an attempt to prevent problem gambling in the country. However, according to most studies, it’s a non-issue, with the level of problem gambling less than 1%.

A study from two years ago put the “problem gambling” segment at just 0.25% of the entire population. Other studies have found Spain’s gambling industry to be the safest in all of Europe.

Therefore, the reasons behind Garzón’s actions have to be explored, but it doesn’t take long to find a possible explanation. It comes down to money.

Less than a year ago, the government official told Spaniards that gambling is harmful and that they needed to stay away from Codere and other operators. However, in the same breath, he told them that they should play the lottery. The government controls the lottery, which means it receives all of the revenue, unlike private gaming operators.

Playing the lottery is a form of gambling, just like any other. To Garzón, however, it’s a “healthy game.” He pitches state-run lottery products like a well-paid spokesman, and this could be the main reason why he wants everyone to avoid private gaming operators.

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