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

The proposed ban, which would specifically exclude the state-run lottery operators, Lotteries and ONCE comes as a ‘soon to be formed’ Spanish coalition government is expected to be implementing new gambling regulations, which will add stricter controls on advertising and consumer standards.

If the ban is to be imposed, it could have a significant impact on the ways in which affiliates can promote their brands and services on social media platforms. The cull in TV advertising could mean that gambling brands and affiliates have to diversify their marketing strategies, from social media and WhatsApp groups, to perimeter boards and shirt sponsorships.

According to the Spanish media, the acting ombudsman, has submitted proposals to the government on Monday.

Recommendations have been made by Marugán, which have been addressed to the Ministries of Finance and Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare. The detail of the framework of an ‘open-ended action plan’ is included, 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.

This 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.”