Across the world, lawmakers are considering a host of measures meant to check the growth and influence of the gambling industry, both online and land-based. In the UK, advertisements are scrutinized at a meta-level and stakes at video betting terminals have been reduced to almost nothing. In Australia, operators’ advertisements are limited to narrow window of evening hours when susceptible children are tucked snug in their beds.

But these measures are small potatoes compared to Spain, where lawmakers are readying a near-total ban on advertising for nearly every type of gambling product and establishment. The move by the Ombudsman’s Office, which is supported by the Ministry of Finance, would ban gambling advertisements of all stripes with one notable exception. The Royal Decree (which is the equivalent of standard written law in most countries) allows the stat-run ONCE lottery and SELAE pool-betting pool the freedom to continue hawking their wares in the public space, according to SBC News. (The Ombudsman apparently sees nothing inherently hypocritical in this move, but most industry watchers can see plainly what is happening.)

Government officials are instituting the gambling advertising ban, in part, to appease some very vocal anti-gambling activists and not in response to an actual problem (as was the case with the UK’s stake reduction on video betting terminals). Acting Ombudsman Francisco Fernandez Marugan says the ban is needed to combat, what he calls, a “public health crisis”. In fact, only about one percent of Spaniards even gamble on a regular basis.

Fernandez has not explained why ads for state-run gambling entities do not contribute to the “public health crisis” while ads from privately run entities apparently do.


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