The PP and Vox serve the gaming sector by eliminating restrictions in the Valencian law against gambling addiction
Monday 20 de November 2023 / 12:00
2 minutos de lectura
(Valencia).- The parties that govern the Generalitat present amendments in the Cortes to change the rule of the previous Consell that prohibits slot machines within 850 meters of schools. “They are fair,” says the bosses.
The parliamentary groups of the PP and Vox have attended to the gaming sector in the two joint amendments that they have presented this week in the Valencian Cortes to eliminate and reduce some restrictions, moratoriums and prohibitions for the renovation of halls and slot machines contemplated in the Law of regulation of gambling and prevention of gambling in the Valencian Community, approved in 2020 by the previous left-wing Government of the Generalitat.
“They are two measures that seem fair to us,” Alejandro Landaluce, general director of Cejuego, the business association that represents the majority of the private sector in Spain, tells this newspaper in relation to the amendments of the parties that make up the current Consell, chaired by the popular Carlos Mazón. Both have been presented to the Fiscal Measures Law project, a budget accompanying law that is usually used to make legislative modifications that affect very diverse issues.
If these two amendments are approved, as anticipated by the parliamentary majority of both parties, the restrictions for obtaining authorizations for premises and machines included in a law enacted due to the growing and serious problem of gambling addiction, detected at every age, will be reduced. ever earlier. For example, gaming halls and specific betting establishments may renew their licenses even if they are less than 850 meters from an educational center and may also be located in “vulnerable spaces,” contrary to what the current law dictates. These establishments and the bingo halls will not have to be separated by a minimum of 500 meters from each other, another of the modifications included in the first amendment to the second transitional provision of the law.
The second amendment says: “For a maximum period of five years, the suspension of new authorizations of gaming establishments is established, excluding those referred to in letters d) and f) of the third section of article 45 of this law.” That is, authorizations for “recreation halls” (letter d) and “other premises authorized for the installation of gaming machines” (letter f) are permitted. The five-year suspension continues from the entry into force of the law on new authorizations for the exploitation of “type b or recreational machines with prizes”, popularly known as slot machines, but a reservation is included regarding those “broken down or obsolete machines”. ” that may be replaced by a new one during its validity period.
In short, a law is modified that limits private gambling on premises and that was accused of being “very restrictive” and appealed by several associations in the sector. Alejandro Mendiluce recalls that the Superior Court of Justice of the Valencian Community has questioned the rule. The TSJ has submitted a query to the European Court of Justice on whether the distance and location restrictions included are compatible with European legislation, in its treaties on the freedom of business. It also alludes to the fact that the norm already has less restrictive but "effective" measures to protect consumers and raises the possible "discrimination" of private premises with respect to those of State lotteries, pools and sports betting or ONCE, not subject to the same restrictions as it is not the responsibility of the Generalitat.
Nuria Ciscar, the regional representative of the PP who is handling the processing of the draft Law on Fiscal Measures, together with Juan Zaplana, explains that the amendments have been made after meeting with “associations of the sector and with workers” and after the pronouncement of the TSJ. “The regulations are excessively restrictive and lead the sector to numerous layoffs or closure. The law already has enough controls, as the TSJ itself says. Furthermore, the Administration should in all likelihood compensate the companies. "The protection of minors and health is a priority, but we believe it is guaranteed by control measures."
The general director of the Cejuego employers' association maintains that since the law was enacted, 42 gambling halls have been closed out of the nearly half a thousand in the Valencian Community and estimates that the compensation to companies in the event of a favorable ruling would rise to about 350 million euros. The PP and Vox amendments to the “most restrictive” law in Spain are “a recognition of a reality,” he says.
Fidel Molina, president of SOS Hostelería, assures in this regard “The proposed changes in the law qualify some of the most ideological aspects of the law that affected employment, as well as reducing the collection capacity of the Generalitat. "It is not at all what the sector would want, but without touching the spirit of the law, they are changes that avoid harm to both the administration and the companies and their workers."
However, the socialist spokesman for the Treasury in the Cortes, Jose Muñoz, considers that the modifications represent “a setback in a pioneering norm in Spain and that has served as an example for other communities.” Muñoz criticizes that the right "stands with the big gambling operators" and "leaves young people unprotected" in the face of "the serious problem that exists in our country of gambling addiction." Muñoz recalled that gambling addiction is already "a public health problem" and regretted that the Consell "is going to encourage it by reversing a brave rule." "The Consell de Mazón wants to give free rein to the big gambling operators to open betting houses and for us to return to a model with slot machines and betting houses at the doors of our children's schools, at the doors of the addiction rehabilitation,” insists Muñoz.
The parliamentary spokesperson for Compromís, Joan Baldoví, considers that “the big losers will be the Valencian neighborhoods and towns, which will see new betting and gaming establishments appear like mushrooms.” "While in recent years we have been fighting against gambling addiction and gambling addiction in the Valencian government, PP and Vox are going backwards and putting business before health." Baldoví also criticizes the amendments that repeal the transitional provision by which the previous government raised the rate applicable to the wealth tax on income of more than 10 million euros, from 3.5% to 3.75%. “With these PP and Vox proposals, the millionaires win, since they are given money through the wealth tax. A gift above all for the 0.2% of Valencians.”
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