Spain’s Gambling Industry Winning Victories in Court Fights

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Posted on: March 9, 2023, 06:56h. 

Last updated on: March 9, 2023, 06:56h.

In a world that seems to be increasingly against gambling as a commercial activity, Spain’s gaming community is finding a little bit of support. They aren’t major victories, but they’re enough to induce further changes to keep the market stable.

Cadiz, Spain, at night
Cadiz, Spain, at night. The city lost a court battle when it tried to place new limits on gambling activity. (Image: Pinterest)

This week, The Superior Court of Justice of Andalusia (TSJA, for its Spanish acronym) ruled in favor of gaming operators in Cadiz on Spain’s southern coast. It annulled a modification the city council approved in 2020 to limit the proliferation of gambling venues within the city’s borders.

That modification prohibited the venues from being less than 500 meters (1,640 feet) from schools, sports facilities and sociocultural centers. However, the TSJA delivered a blow to Cadiz by reversing the measure, and it’s not the first time this has happened in Spain.

“Excessive” Measure Defeated

Through its ruling, the Administrative Litigation Chamber of the TSJA accepted an appeal gaming operators and the Regional Government of Andalusia (JRA, for its Spanish acronym) filed against the city. It said in its decision, which the Cádiz City Council is considering appealing, that the power in matters of gambling is exclusively regional.

After the approval of the municipal measure by the City Council, the JRA issued a decree to modify the regional gaming laws. It stated that newly opened gaming halls must maintain a minimum distance of 150 meters (492 feet) from the entrances of educational centers.

For the court, the measure of the City Council, which placed this distance at 500 meters, was “exaggerated,” “excessive” and unjustified. It determined that the city’s end game was to force the gaming venues to shut down, leaving Cadiz gambling-free, except for the lottery.

The city also tried to argue that the measure was necessary to counter gambling harm. This is despite Spain’s registered problem gambling rate being less than 1%. The TSJA didn’t bite.

In its ruling, the court added that it understands the need to regulate gambling and protect vulnerable groups such as minors. However, it pointed out that the council didn’t provide any evidence that there have been health problems in the city due to gambling addiction that would justify the city’s reaction.

Second Time This Year

This is the second time since 2023 began that Spanish courts have shown support for the gambling industry. In January, the Superior Court of Justice of Castilla y Leon issued a similar ruling against the City Council of Burgos.

Castilla y Leon’s laws for physical gambling establishments mirror those of Andalusia. However, Burgos tried to tighten the noose within its borders, as well.

Like in the case of Cadiz, the court determined that Burgos had overstepped its bounds. It wasn’t able to introduce measures more restrictive than the regional laws allowed and couldn’t prevent new gaming operations from launching.

These two victories don’t mean Spain is reversing its stance on gambling. Almost all of the country’s autonomous communities are introducing more restrictions, and new regulations are coming on the federal level, as well.

However, they might cause political leaders to take a second look at proposed changes before implementing them. They might also lead decision-makers to fully investigate the facts in order to formulate new processes.


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