The Balearic government will be presenting amendments to existing gambling legislation. On Monday, the director general for trade, Miguel Piñol, and the regional secretary for productive sectors, Jesús Jurado, outlined new measures which are being planned and are due to be introduced next year. This followed a meeting of the gambling commission at which there was discussion of the scheduling of legislative reform.
A key measure will be to increase the minimum distance of a gambling establishment from schools, playgrounds, centres for minors and hospitals. This is set to go from 100 metres to 500 metres.
There are to be restrictions on gambling advertising in public areas, including the fronts of gambling establishments. The number of new licences will be restricted, there are to be age controls for machines in bars and restaurants, and any possible sexist or racist elements will be removed from these machines.
At the next meeting of the commission, Piñol will be specifying revised sanctions for establishments which admit minors and people who have been banned. At present, the sanctioning framework has provision for fines of up to 500,000 euros for allowing minors on the premises.
There are some 150 gambling and betting halls in the Balearics as well as around 5,000 slot machines. In 2017, the Balearics had the third highest number of gambling establishments in the country - 116 per one million inhabitants.
Piñol explained that there are two regional inspectors who monitor gambling establishments and check that there is no one under age. There are also two National Police officers who are exclusively engaged in this monitoring.
He added that although a national study has found that almost two out of ten minors bet in gambling establishments, inspectors in the Balearics have not come across any evidence of this over the two years of the current government. Regarding new licences, Piñol said that two have been applied for in Inca and one in Marratxi, which is for an establishment 100 metres or so from a school. Given existing legislation, these can open.
Jurado stressed the need to prevent the most vulnerable from gambling and to stop large investors from turning the Balearics into a "low-cost Las Vegas". For him, the health and safety of youngsters and their families as well as the image of the Balearics are at stake."We cannot ensure security in neighbourhoods that are saturated with gambling halls."