Madrid, Spain –Spain is home to one of Europe’s largest regulated gambling markets, but many people are quite unhappy about it. Thousands of people took to the streets to protest the alarming increase of betting shops and gambling establishments around Spain. The main cause of concern among protestors is the rise of underage gambling.
The largest group of protestors gathering on the streets of Spain rallied to the Spanish capital of Madrid. According to reports, the number of betting shops in Madrid increased by up to 300% since 2013.
People are speaking out against the large concentration of these so-called “betting houses” in central Madrid, of which some are located near schools. The organizers of the Madrid protests insisted that betting houses are destroying their neighborhoods.
The organization does not plan on putting an end to gambling in Spain, or to shut down the gambling industry, as gambling is completely legal in Spain. But, they are alarmed at the lack of zoning laws concerning the location of these gambling houses, which are often located near schools, parks, and libraries.
According to data from Madrid’s Association of Psychologists, 1 out of every 5 teenagers in Spain are addicted to gambling—the highest rate in Europe! According to protestors, this is because of gambling houses built near schools and recreational areas where minors frequent.
The protest groups are also calling for the complete ban of gambling advertisements, because anyone of any age can access them. The Spanish government has been trying to ban celebrity gambling endorsements and also gambling operator’s logos being shown in sporting events.
Although gambling is legal and accepted all over Spain, it is up to individual regions/states to regulate their own gambling industries. Some regions enforce strict rules, while some are more lax. Regions with lax oversight end up suffering from increasing underage gambling. Spain’s National Police is stepping up its game in curbing minor’s access to casinos, including increasing ID checks to spot fake IDs.
Besides the government, Spanish gaming regulators are also taking steps to ensure that no betting activity is accessible to participants under 18 years of age.
As a nation known for bullfighting and running with bulls, Spain should know full well what power a runaway beast holds. Bullfighting, while considered cruel by many, shows us that there are consequences for a single misstep by the matador.
Regulating and carefully overseeing gambling laws can lead to positive cash flow for countries and communities around the world. But, when licenses are handed out like candy, the betting beast grows too large, too fast, and it ends up destroying everything in its path.
So, it’s about time Spain takes the gambling bull by its horns, and it should do it soon.