Andalusia Lawmakers Reject Gaming Bill

A gaming bill proposed in Andalusia, an autonomous community located in Spain, was shot down earlier this month. Left-leaning members of Parliament were asking local legislators to set mandatory distance between gaming houses and schools.

The bill was rejected, with lawmakers saying it was overly simplistic and undermined the authority of the federal government

Ongoing Tensions Over Gaming in Spain

The outside of the Parliament building in Andalusia.

Until 2018, the PSOE, or the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, held the majority rule of the Parliament of Andalusia. ©Wikipedia

This proposal comes around the same time thousands took to the streets across Spain in opposition to the tidal wave of gaming that has crashed in the country in the last decade.

At these protests, activists shared the same concern: that gaming houses were too close to schools, encouraging young people in Spain to start participating in gambling from a young age. As gambling addiction plagues young people in Spain more than in any other European country, these concerns are not unfounded.

However, with the advent of online gaming, it’s quite likely regulating gaming houses in Spain — while important — would not address the larger problem. According to The Local, most addicted to gaming between 14 and 21 years old in Spain access their gaming through their mobile phones.

What Was This New Bill?

The bill was proposed by Adelante Andalucía and the PSOE, and sought to eliminate gaming houses within 500 meters of local schools. In addition, these groups wanted there to be a mandatory distance of at least 250 meters between gaming houses.

Adelante Andalucía and the PSOE are both left-leaning groups. Adelante Andalucía is a coalition between Podemos Andalusia, United Left/The Greens—Assembly for Andalusia, Andalusian Left and Andalusian Spring. They’re a fairly young party, having been founded in 2018 out of efforts to contest the results of the Andalusian regional election. Interestingly, at the time of their party’s founding, the group defined itself in opposition to the PSOE.

The PSOE, meanwhile, is the Partido Socialista Obrero Español de Andalucía, or the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party. The PSOE was first founded in 1977, and maintained control of Andalucía with almost no interruption (save for a loss in 2012), until the election in 2018.

The other governing groups comprising the Parliament of Andalusia are: the Partido Popular de Andalucía (or the People’s Party of Andalusia), known as PP; Ciudadanos (or Citizens), and VOX.

When asked about the bill, the People’s Party, which now controls the majority of the Parliament in Andalusia, described the bill as “simplistic,” while Ciudadanos member Andrés Ramón Sámper said:

“We do not understand why the PSOE didn’t bring this proposal when it was in charge of the Government. It seems that they have many duties to do.”

Gaming in Andalusia

Home to 8.5 million people, Andalusia has the largest population of any autonomous community in Spain, and is the second-largest in size. In the last several years, like Spain generally, Andalusia has worked since 2011 to become more hospitable to gaming.

In 2011, Spain established online gaming rules, which were also adopted in Andalusia, making it friendlier to online gaming. The government added to this potential source of revenue, when the Regional Government of Andalusia established the Andalusia Gambling Regulations in 2017, which lifted the ban on sports betting held in the country prior to that point.

Within a year of implementing this policy, sports betting increased in Andalusia exponentially: by September 2018, 3,440 sports betting terminals had opened in 749 different gaming houses in Andalusia alone. Almost a quarter of all these terminals and gaming houses (813 sports betting terminals; 171 gaming houses) were located in the province of Malaga. The capital of Andalusia, Seville, came in second, with 663 gaming terminals.

Already at that time, local government was concerned with regulating gaming and protecting its minors: the bill stipulated means of verifying the identity of players, as well as stricter limits on age for playing.

With the opening of Casino Admiral Sevilla, an elegant and large new casino, just this past summer and the rejection of this latest bill, one can surmise the Andalusian stance on gaming in the country: that is to say, for the time being, the majority of local lawmakers are happy with the status quo.

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The Casino Marbella from the outside.

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