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Reduce the numbers of Spaniards engaged in face-to-face money games or online has become one of the great objectives of the Ministry of Consumption of Alberto Garzon. However, the pandemic has played against him, at least in the field of virtual bets.

Over the past year, with the outbreak of Covid-19, the number of players online it was put at almost a million and a halfa growth of 8% compared to 2019. The companies dedicated to this sector could not have done better: in the last quarter of 2020 its earnings increased 25% annually and 20% quarter-over-quarter.

In fact, according to the latest data provided by Consumo, in 2020 the business of companies in the gaming sector increased to 851 million, 14% more. Garzón’s department bases these accounts on the margins obtained by gambling operators online.

Evolution of gaming operator margins. Source: Ministry of Labor.

These accounts are no coincidence. According to experts, the confinements generated by the pandemic, also during the third wave of the coronavirus, have caused all forms of gambling and betting online have increased.

This same week the Minister of Consumption expressed his concern about this phenomenon. He indicated that gambling addiction is a “complex” problem, which requires “complex, transversal and multidisciplinary” solutions.

To this end, it is developing a regulation, which will be finalized throughout this summer, against advertising by betting houses, especially virtual ones, in the world of sports. “This royal decree is a very important qualitative leap that, although it does not tackle the problem, does help to close a very important sector. Sport should not be a business, but a transmitter of values“Garzon said.

But this has not stopped the bookmakers. Its investment in marketing grew by 23.8% in the fourth quarter of last yearalthough in quarter-on-quarter terms it fell by 1.7%.

Evolution of players with money 'on line'.  Source: Ministry of Consumption.

Evolution of players with money ‘on line’. Source: Ministry of Consumption.

It is precisely the betting business online, which includes sports betting, is the one that represents the most income. In the last quarter of 2020, generated more than 231 million euros, close to half of what virtual gaming operators pocket in margins in Spain. This figure represents an increase compared to the third quarter of 25% and 18% compared to the same period of 2019.

According to the latest edition of the ‘Report on Behavioral Addictions’ of the Ministry of Health, which was released in April, face-to-face gambling and online it is increasingly widespread in the population between 15 and 64 years of age. Between 2019 and 2020, 64.2% of these citizens have played with money. However, according to the study, the vast majority of players are face-to-face.

This does not imply that the game online is not in a clear upward trend. According to said study, 6.7% of Spaniards between the ages of 15 and 64 have gambled with money onlinedouble that of 2017. And its prevalence is higher among younger people, decreasing as age increases.


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