Spain Classifies Problem Gambling as “Drug Addiction Without Substance”

Spain Classifies Problem Gambling as "Drug Addiction Without Substance"

Last year, Spain’s Council of Ministers changed the classification of problem gambling to “drug addiction without substance,” based upon the findings of a report produced by the American Psychiatric Association. Having received support by the Ministry of Health, the institution has now requested that the Drug Support Council includes the reclassification in the country’s ‘Action Plan on Addictions 2018-2020’ mandate, whose purpose is to advise health and social organizations on how to go about combating addiction problems and providing optimal support to its victims.

Addiction Problem in Spain

Spain has one of the highest rates of drug use in Europe, and according to a 2015 report produced by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), one third of Spanish adults have tried an illicit substance at some time, including 3.4 % of adults having taken designer drugs used to mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy.

Spain also has a gambling addiction problem, with a report published by the news outlet El País asserting that between 2% and 3% of the population is currently suffering from a gambling related problem. According to the study, the country’s low level of gambling regulation in both the online and offline sector is partly responsible for the troubling situation.

Action Plan on Addiction

The ‘Action Plan on Addictions 2018-2020’ incorporates recommendations made by a number of stakeholders, including the National Health Ministry, the Spanish gambling regulator (DGOJ), as well as other organizations. This in turn allows it to produce a more comprehensive and broader mandate that benefits from the knowledge and understanding of organizations with a deep experience of the subject matter.

Drug Council Advisory Board

Spain’s National Drug Strategy has primarily focused on tackling the use of illicit drugs, and like other EU countries, its strategy is based upon the findings of ongoing monitoring and research projects. A new National Drug Strategy is currently being revamped for the period up to 2024, and in addition to illicit drugs and licit substances, such as alcohol, it will also include gambling.

The government has already committed €1 billion in funding to the project, with roughly a quarter of the money having been allocated from the proceeds of confiscated drugs trafficking. The Drug Council is also using some of the money to set up a new advisory board in order to broaden the scope of its agenda, and examine ways in which to improve the treatments available.

Gambling Revenue Up 40% in Q2

Plans to overhaul the National Addiction Strategy comes at a time when the country’s online gambling market is booming. In Q2, online gambling revenues surged by a staggering 40.1% year-on-year to €167.2 million, with sports betting revenue spiking 46.7% to €87.6 million, and online casino up by 36.9% to €56.5 million. Even poker noted an impressive 34.8% year-on-year improvement to €19.5 million, although that figure still represents a 9.4% decline versus Q1, despite PartyPoker launching its platform in June.

Spain’s online gambling sector is likely to receive a further boost going forward after legislators cut online gambling taxes from 25% to 20% in June. It would seem that the country has finally felt able to make the reduction after its economy grew by 3.1% last year, and commenting upon the tax break, Asensi Abogados from Spanish gaming law firm, stated:

“Operators will be able to make better offers to the players who will not go to illegal markets. The latest figures from the DGOJ show that all areas of online gambling are expanding, particularly with sports betting and online casino games, so I believe that these new measures will also lead to more tax being collected.”