The DGOJ prohibits betting on events with minors

In accordance with Law 13/2011 on the Regulation of Gambling (LRJ, hereinafter) and its corresponding Orders Ministerial, the General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ) has published a project resolution to prohibit betting on events featuring exclusively or mostly minors in USA. The DGOJ closed the consultation period for said project on June 24. After the corresponding report from the State Advocacy Office of the Secretary of State for Finance, it will be approved with effects that will begin to take place the day after its publication in the Official State Gazette (BOE).

Adolescentes jugando al fútbol.

El fútbol es el deporte con un mayor número de competiciones para apostar online. ©PixaBay/flooy

According to a study by the DGOJ carried out in 2018 on sports betting offered by licensed operators in USA, as cited by the DGOJ in thereport on said project resolution,at least 5.45% of the competitions offered include minors, which translates at 1.03% of the total bets. Of the competitions available at legal bookmakers, the disciplines with the highest participation of minors are field hockey (17.86%), water polo (11.11%), table tennis (11.11%) and ice hockey (10.92%). The DGOJ warns that these figures may be even higher, because the absolute numbers of the study focus on the most popular sports practices among USA users, but in relative terms, minors are also present in competitions of other sports modalities with a lower audience in our country.

Form and effects of the future resolution in the current sports betting market

In line with the content of articles 1, 6.3, 21 and 23.1, as well as the various Ministerial Orders for the regulation of the basic regulations of the different types of bets available in USA, the DGOJ considers that the protection of minors in the form in which the law provides is not being applied in all the spectrums that concern the games of chance, as cited in the project report.

From the aforementioned normative perspective, and taking into account the criterion of the best interest of the minor (constitutionally recognized and direct directly connected with the object of the law from a holistic point of view), this management center has considered that it is not convenient for minors to integrate the objects of the bet.

In order to apply the precepts on the protection of minors contained in the law,the DGOJ proposes two possible alternatives for public information. The first would mean modifying the basic regulations of bets, including the aforementioned Ministerial Orders, to prohibit those competitions with minors. The second, and the one preferred by the DGOJ for being the fastest and easiest to apply, introduce the ban by means of a resolution addressed to gaming operators, whose application, control and sanction will be handled by the gaming authority in USA.

Regardless of the regulatory instrument used, once said resolution has been published in the BOE,operators with a unique license for regulated betting are prohibited from offering events featuring exclusively or mainly minors. Due to this change in the regulation of online gambling, bookmakers will have to take special care when selecting the sporting events that will make up part of their betting catalog. Operators will have to eliminate bets, for example, on U18 soccer competitions or tennis matches with underage opponents such as Amanda Anisimova. It is possible that this new regulation affectscertain eSports tournaments, especially those of League of Legends (LOL) where the average age of the players is around 20 years. In USA and in other countries of the European Union, eSports teams can hire professional players over 16 years of age with parental authorization.

Un joven jugando al hockey hierba.

Field hockey is one of the sports with the largest number of minors.©PixaBay/Squirrel_photos

Minors, a group of maximum vulnerability to the effects of gambling

In accordance with the regulatory foundations of the LRJ , minors under 18 years of age are prohibited from accessing and enjoying the content offered by regulated operators in our country. However, the practice is quite different. At the end of 2018, the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU)demanded more effective measures to protect minors from the effects of gambling after verifying the ease with which many minors of age bet in physical establishments or online portals. Among their demands is the prohibition of online betting advertising, something that the public media have already stopped doingTelemadrid andTV3, the latter from July 1.It is not a game, the specialized page of the Foundation against Drug Addiction on online gambling, warns that more than 140,000 minors bet real money online in 2018, a figure that corresponds 6.5% of young people between 14 and 18 years old. Many media outlets have echoed this problem among minors in our country with headlines thatassimilate the addiction to online gambling of the current generation of young people to that which was hit by the generation of the 70-80s with heroin.

In the face of a bleak outlook and the complaints made against the failed application of the LRJ with regard to the protection of minors, the prohibition of betting on These sporting events are part of the DGOJ's awareness and action campaigns to keep this highly vulnerable group out of online gaming and thus avoid trivializing the effects they may have on them. For example, in Marchthe DGOJ joined forces with LaLiga and the National Police to make minors aware of the social and economic risks involved in betting, in this case, on this type of events under the motto “you don't play with sport”.

Outside our borders, the Swedish national authority for the regulation of gambling, Spelinspektionen,has recently fined eight operators of the stature of Bet365 and Betfair for offering bets on events with minors in accordance with the gambling regulation law in the Nordic country. The sanctions, which in total amount to almost 4 million euros, have served for the operators to remove U19 and U21 tournament events from their catalogues.

Check here the triptych on minors and online betting of the DGOJ

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