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Spanish football clubs sponsored by gambling firms have been advised to cancel their contracts before the end of the season in anticipation of a new law on gambling advertising, according to a letter sent by a government minister on Wednesday.

The letter, signed by the minister of consumer affairs Alberto Garzon and seen by Reuters, informs the clubs that contracts with gambling companies will be prohibited once the new royal decree is approved by a cabinet meeting and written into law.

The letter added that betting companies sponsoring teams and athletes had “contributed to normalising a practice with serious health and social risks which need to be minimised in the field of advertising.”

It said athletes’ status as role models had led to an increase in gambling among young people aged 18-25, rising from 29% to 40% in the last four years. The amount of money spent by young people on gambling, meanwhile, had risen by 13% annually.

Seven of the 20 teams in Spanish soccer’s top division La Liga are sponsored by gambling companies, including Europa League holders Sevilla and six-times league champions Valencia.

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