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Spain’s Ombudsman calls for complete ban on gambling advertisements

Spain’s acting ‘Civic Ombudsman’, Francisco Fernández Marugán, has urged the Spanish government to issue a complete ban on advertising gambling products and services which would extend to the media, radio, television and internet.

The proposed ban, which specifically excludes the state-run lottery operators Loterias and ONCE, comes as a ‘soon to be formed’ Spanish coalition government is expected to implement new gambling regulations, adding stricter controls on advertising and consumer standards.

As reported in the Spanish media, the acting ombudsman had submitted proposals to the government on Monday.

Recommendations made by Marugán have already been addressed to the Ministries of Finance and Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare. They detail within the framework of an ‘open-ended action plan’, which will be open for discussion, regarding the proliferation and intense publicity of gambling ads and bookmakers .

Similar plans have been previously announced by Spain’s Finance Minister María Jesús Montero to place a similar ban on gambling advertising to the one in place for tobacco products.

The ban would mean that operators would be prohibited from displaying any form of broadcast pertaining to gambling products and services before a particular time, in addition to the prohibition of celebrity endorsements and gambling signage at sporting events.

Marugán has stated that any operator found to be in contravention of the proposed ban could result in the cancellation of an operator’s licence, however this can only be justified if a total ban is imposed. The current advertisement policy in Spain is not yet regulated, and so this proposal would significantly alter the ways in which operators can promote products.

The Ombudsman considers that the advertising of gambling and bets “should not be considered protected in the freedom of business, as it is not in products such as tobacco or addictive substances”.

He argued that the possibility of a blanket ban could be justified by claiming that the right of a business to advertise was not enshrined in Spanish law. Marugán further stressed that gambling was “a public health issue that requires a regulatory framework with imperative legal norms”.

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