Ombudsman of Spain Calling For Blanket Ban on Gambling Advertising

June 09

Spain - The ombudsman of Spain, Francisco Fernandez Marugan, is asking the government to implement a blanket ban on advertisements involving all kinds of gambling products and services. The only exception would be advertisements for the state lottery.

Marugan proposed this to the government with a pointed focus on the advertising of gambling products online. SELAE is the state-run lottery, which would be exempted from the proposed ban, along with the pool betting and lottery operation ONCE.

And since there are no safeguards in Spanish law, Marugan thinks that a blanket ban on gambling advertising is reasonable. He says that gambling is obviously “a public health issue that requires a regulatory framework with imperative legal norms.”

He does not consider a self-regulation approach would be effective at all. However, this goes against his willingness to let the lottery operators to self-regulate their advertising. These operators have a proven history of conducting provocative ad campaigns when left to their own devices.

They have utilized famous former footballers as part of their gambling campaigns. A huge issue came to fore back in January 2019 when SELAE at first allowed a 15-year-old to claim a jackpot worth €200,000 ($223,300), even though the legal age to be allowed to participate in the lottery is 18.

Talks of a ban have been heard ever since last year. In October of 2018, Finance Minister Maria Jesus Montero talked about restrictions for gambling ads that are identical to those being applied on the advertising of tobacco-related products.

Ads pertaining to gambling would be banned on all forms of broadcast media, especially the Internet, radio, and television, during times when underage people might be able to be exposed to them. There would also be a ban on gambling ads at sporting events and celebrities would be kept from promoting gambling firms.

The ombudsman realizes that a complete blanket ban might not be doable for the moment. Therefore, he believes that the proposal from October is as good a start as any. He calls for any interference of one of the restrictions to be punished by stripping the operator of its precious gambling license. Other nations have also been trying to crack down on delinquent gambling operators by just using just fines. However, that practice has proven to be not effective.

These companies often make more from their digressions than they lose from paying fines. Therefore, more stringent penalties are needed to actively dissuade operators from expressively violating gambling laws.