Roulette, football, slot machines: the number of bookmakers increases in Spain


When leaving his job, Manuel Gamboa throws some coins at the roulette wheel. No more than two euros, he confesses. This 22-year-old, from Santa Cruz, in Bolivia, thus takes a little air between his workday and the return home. Ex-military in his country, he arrived in Spain eight months ago. It has been used as “maintenance of heights” thanks to a course he did for a leg injury and I didn’t know the game Until Madrid stepped on. “There I had gone to bingo once, with my father, but I didn’t usually see him every day,” he says, surprised.
The first time he entered one of these rooms with opaque doors, he won 200 euros. He had thrown a coin and the reward prompted him to try again. Now, those 50 cents left daily before getting off the subway usually stay at the bottom of the machine. “Sometimes he recovers, but almost never. I go to my favorite numbers,” he admits. He is amazed at the amount of “kids” that pass from the street to this fluorescent world called El Dorado.

“I don’t think it creates addiction, but I would have to control them. Especially in some neighborhoods,” he wields before hurrying the cigar and getting back into roulette.

It refers, nuances, to areas such as Porto or Cuatro Caminos, to the south and north of the capital of Spain. He is now at the Puente de Vallecas, known as the Madrid Macao. There are 10 betting rooms in the short distance between a suburban exit and one of the main avenues, in approximately 250 meters: more concentration than in the Portuguese colony. As soon as you see the afternoon light after the darkness of the platform, one bumps into this place from which Gamboa leaves. El Dorado is a private business that houses the machines of Sportium, one of the big chains. Next to it is another one of Codere, a Mega Slot and another one of Bet365: impossible not to get in any, where the striking posters and the clink of money attracts thousands of users. According to the regional census, in this area there have been 37 businesses of this type in 2013 to 63 in 2018. And the total of the Community is 625 in 2018 compared to 356 in 2013. Almost double.

  • Detail of a bookmaker in Vallecas, MadridDetail of a bookmaker in Vallecas, Madrid.

                        Sputnik / Alberto García Palomo

  • A woman walks in front of a bookmaker in Vallecas, MadridA woman walks in front of a bookmaker in Vallecas, Madrid.

                        Sputnik / Alberto García Palomo

  • Detail of a game room in Vallecas, Madrid

    Detail of a game room in Vallecas, Madrid.

  • A betting shop in Vallecas, Madrid

    A betting shop in Vallecas, Madrid.

                        Sputnik / Alberto García Palomo

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                    Sputnik / Alberto García Palomo

Detail of a bookmaker in Vallecas, Madrid.

From February 18, at the entrance you must leave your ID or register as if you were a member, filling in personal data. A machine for the fingerprint and some beating rays if you pass an invisible line serve as a filter. There are also posters that indicate that there is the right of admission and that people can be thrown out according to their use of the facilities. The employees, who prefer not to give any name, explain that it has been a few days, since the law entered into force to regulate these spaces. “We can’t comment on anything else without the boss’s authorization,” they sentence. It was a previous reform to which Alberto Garzón, the Minister of Consumer Affairs announced last week.

In the latter, criticized for his laxity with companies, the schedule for the ads is reduced or the promotion is prohibited by means of celebrities, but it does not restrict as much as it had been anticipated: the new regulations have marked eight o’clock in the afternoon as the time at which there may be betting advertising ( not one o’clock in the morning, as was said) and has not prohibited the presence of brands in football stadiums.

“It is a royal decree that it will not please everyone, but we have broken our minds and we believe that the restriction is better than the prohibition, “said Garzón, who warned:” A period of dialogue and proposals to make the relevant changes is now beginning. “

Controversial measures, since complaints about these services take time asking for a hard hand against these businesses. The industry – according to data of the Business Council of the Game (Cejuego), the majority employer of the sector – moved only in its version on-line 2,580 million euros in 2019. In person there were 18,252 million (in casinos, bingos, gambling halls and slots), plus the 2,161 million of the ONCE and the 9,000 million State Lotteries and Betting. And that is in the target for causing cases of addiction and gambling: in recent months, several neighborhood platforms or some sports professionals have positioned themselves against these premises, which invade especially the most disadvantaged peripheries (such as Vallecas, this Macao del south of Madrid where Manuel Gamboa plays).
“They have proliferated in the most humble areas. You don’t see them in the noble streets. They choose them because they are the places with the lowest incomes and access to more dignified work is complicated. These sites offer you the possibility to continue measuring, to change that situation. They invite you to win and give you the prominence: you can do it, as the presenters, actors or soccer players say in advertising, “says Irene, spokesman for a local association sponsored under the hashtag Bet on your neighborhood. They started a year ago with the protests and regrets the Garzón concessions.

“They have studied the impact. On the outside, they hide like one more business, as if it were a haberdashery, but inside they study the placement, the lack of windows or the light,” says the spokeswoman.

Screens, stools and sofas are distributed with a clear objective: that the person is comfortable and that nothing feels like a threat but as friendly, cheerful. Depending on the type of premises, apart, food or drink is served at low prices. That loyalty and makes it another element of everyday leisure. “They do not generate any type of alarm, being hidden in the urban landscape,” says Irene, disappointed by the measures proposed by the Minister of Consumption. “We only accept one thing: the ban. We do not want half measures. The only regulation has to be to prohibit,” he concludes, cataloging it as a public health problem (in fact, the entry is banned to ludopaths registered in a Ministry record of consumption).
Irene, the spokeswoman for this group, refers to the Ludopathy as an effect of these premises. “It carries obvious physical and psychological consequences. Because apart from economic damage, it entails loss of relationships or mental disorders,” he says, noting an Imorosity survey which highlights the growth, among people aged 18 to 30, of credit applications. Such a report reflects that 36% within this group is on a list of delinquents for a debt related to a personal loan. They are followed by debts with mini-credits (21%) and late payments with credit cards (21%). The list of telephone companies (13%), consumer financing (6%) and those discovered in current account (3%) are finalized.
“The Internet generation, made up of people between 18 and 30 years old, is the most exposed to the overflowing consumerism of preferably technological products with their immediate financing facilities, such as video games or mobile devices. To this has been added an effect recent: sports betting or network games. increase in granting of credits With these purposes it has grown considerably in recent months. The problem lies in the fact that these young people, with the current salary level, will have many difficulties to face this debt. In addition, this debt that will probably be extended for several years will diminish its future vital projects, “said Mario Mazaira, CEO of iMorosity, in the statement. According to the Directorate General for Game Management (DGOJ), between 2012 and 2017 the turnover of the game on-line in Spain it grew 387% to exceed 13,000 million euros.
María Hurtado, member of AGS Psychologists and addiction expert, confirms her theories. “There is a greater demand and especially in the adolescent population. They call alarmed relatives because their son consumes this type of products,” he argues. The professional, with a decade since the foundation of the cabinet, has noticed two types of clients. “There are those who come alone, who have realized their problem, and those who bear parents,” he says. For her, we should be aware and, despite the media and social focus, inform more. Count the influence and possible consequences, as has happened with tobacco or alcohol.

“There is a lot of ignorance. And it starts in the same way as before, when you were in the park: you go in a group to a room of these, put some money and spend the afternoon. It becomes a usual plan,” Hurtado sighs.

“Linking it to famous people, to which it praises, or exhibiting it in great sports competitions, which relate it as something healthy, is decisive. Limiting advertising is important, but what comes out in football matches of prime time, in which it becomes something complementary to the game —Like tweeting or arguing with your friends — and you are in a moment of euphoria, with the much greater chance of getting hooked, because you are going through an emotional, non-rational way, ”Hurtado explains. . And not only for the multiplication of rooms, but for the game on-line, which is very simple and easy not to hide, “says the specialist. According to the DGOJ, Spain went from 2,471 betting locations in 2016 to 2,986 in 2017.

Like those that emerge in Puente de Vallecas, this zero zone of the game in Madrid. In a different one from Mario Gamboa, Cristian leans against the doorway and narrows his eyes with sunlight. He is a 45-year-old Romanian man. “I like only football and slot machines,” he says. In his country, he says, there is also “a lot of play” and he is glad that they put some preserve. “It is dangerous for minors“he summarizes, without considering a possible hitch.” I bet at most 50 or 100 euros, but I recover something, “he concedes. He goes to some properties in the area about three times a week.

“I have been quite a while and I have not had any problems,” says a 44-year-old neighbor who, however, sees these types of activities harmful. “If you are not careful, you see many difficult stories,” he adds inside a room.

Borja, the person in charge of the afternoon, clarifies that it is a bingo while he asks for the identity document from two older people. “Its regulations are different: we do not put obstacles when entering, but in the machines it is not possible to be played if you are less than 18 years old or you are put in the list”, it argues. The “list” is the mentioned record of ludopaths. The anteroom to the main cabin, with armchairs and tables to support soft drinks or coffee, is similar to that of any other betting room. The machines keep four customers standing and Borja prevents: “Not everything we do is bad. This also serves as a respite, as a hobby after the hard day of work. “


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