Suicide has become the leading cause of unnatural death in Spain; and the pathological addiction to gambling, known as compulsive gambling, in the third cause when someone takes their own life. At the same time, the number of gaming halls open in working-class neighborhoods continues to grow. The associations in charge of rehabilitating these people and the platforms against bookmakers play a fundamental role: they stop stigmatizing the sick and judge these spaces.
The platform Malaga against the Bookmakers was born in 2018 with the aim of ending them. “Several neighbors met, concerned not so much about the betting houses, but about their location. At that time I was beginning to rehabilitate myself,” he says. alejandro torre, spokesperson for the organization that once suffered from addiction. The movement was joined by citizens, unions and teachers who saw young people hooked on online sports betting.
“We are talking about a popular movement that brings together very diverse people with a single goal: to end the betting houses. We do not want to have anything to do with political parties. Abolition is a political process through which these companies gradually suffocate and end up leaving“Torre explains to EL ESPAÑOL in Malaga while pointing out that” whoever does not try to overcome his addiction to gambling, he has three paths: rehabilitate himself, end up going crazy and finally take your life”.
A year ago, some neighbors of a block of flats on Avenida Carlos de Haya contacted the platform. They had left a message from the Environment in the elevator: a gaming venue had been granted a license to set up shop in the commercial ground floor of the building, which years before had been occupied by a cafeteria. Malaga against the Betting Houses has legal advice and gave them their help.
“This can be stopped. They were given a period of 40 days to present allegations. We present them in addition to a criminological report from the lawyer. We also point out that the block hosts a small shelter for people who go on dialysis in the evenings. An architect of the building itself also indicated that the emergency exits were misplaced,” says the spokesman.
The platform decided to act before the “administrative silence” of the Malaga City Council. The tenants of the block in Carlos de Haya demonstrated and even hung a large banner above the ground floor where the game room was going to be installed, saying: “Pig alert. This neighborhood does not want the betting house”.
Adelante Málaga presented with his help a motion that requested the modification of the regulations so that no business of this type could be established less than 500 meters from educational centers, parks, sports facilities and areas with a large influx of families. The proposal was approved unanimously and for this they had to modify up to the General Urban Planning Plan (PGOU).
“The Board says that it is illegal, that it is not its competence,” recalls Torre. While the two administrations are clarified, he The City Council has approved a one-year moratorium to not give new licenses to betting houses. “Between the fact that little can be done and they have little desire… We have pressed for an increase in prevention programs in associations. That if the City Council can do it,” says the spokesman.
The mobilization served so that the neighbors of Carlos de Haya did not have a betting house below. In fact, a pizzeria will soon open on the ground floor. “Apart from this case, there are other blocks of flats that are fighting against it. We will be informed”, advances Torre, who insists on reminding readers that the platform acts as legal advice available to anyone and a space for neighborhood mobilization.
From 2018 until now, few things have changed in legal matters. “The theme of the game is the law of the jungle. Everybody throws the ball“, criticizes the spokesperson for the platform. Thanks to Alberto Garzón’s decree, approved this year, gambling advertising It can only be shown on television, radio and platforms such as YouTube one to five in the morning. In addition, bookmaker ads may not be broadcast during sports broadcasts and also end the sports sponsorships of these brands (see what happened with Granada CF).
Malaga against the Bookmakers He has expressed his discomfort because the Minister of Consumption did not sit down to speak with the neighborhood movements. The platform considers this decree insufficient because they work “since the abolition of advertising, not since regulation”.
“There are no sanctions against bookmakers”
In regional matters, Juanma Moreno has made two changes: establishing a minimum distance of 150 meters between educational centers and game rooms; and increase the penalty regime for catching a minor playing in a betting house, ranging from 100,000 euros to one million. “The 150 meters seems ridiculous to us, a joke. We are not going to celebrate any of the measures. This sanctioning regime is unfair. There are no sanctions against bookmakers“, reproach.
Crime and precarious jobs
Among the direct consequences of the game are those affected and their families in the first place. “Crime increases in the neighborhoods. Next to a betting house you will find a gold buy and a pawn shop. They are money laundering outlets. They end up sinking the neighborhoods,” he criticizes harshly. In addition, the game rooms “and precarious jobs and the safety of its workers is in question; female workers are sexualized,” warns Torre. For now, many of these sites are growing like mushrooms and running wild in neighborhoods with vulnerable families..
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