Big Bookmakers Back Total Ban on Broadcast Gambling Advertising in UK
The two leading bookmakers in the UK, William Hill and GVC Holdings have come out in favor of stronger gambling safeguards including a complete ban on gambling ads during sports broadcasts, with the exception of horseracing.
The companies said advertising specifically promoting responsible gambling and safer gambling campaigns would be permitted, but strictly limited to one advertisement per commercial break, according to the release.
GVC is backing a more severe ban than a whistle-to-whistle advertising ban which is set to be introduced at the start of the 2019-20 football season in August. The company said in its release that while GVC helped to bring about the new restrictions, the company believes they do not go far enough, and is therefore calling on its industry peers to join it in helping to revolutionize the marketing of gambling brands.
“Whilst the vast majority of our customers enjoy our products responsibly, it is high time that the industry did more to protect its customers from potential harm,” said GVC CEO Kenny Alexander. “As the UK’s largest gambling company, and owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, we at GVC are doing exactly that. I call on our industry peers to help us bring about an end to broadcast advertising which promotes sports-betting in the UK no matter the time of day.”
The move comes after similar calls for a total ban during live sports telecasts in the British Parliament. A bill before parliament would place an unspecified tax on all gambling revenue to fund research into the effects of gambling addiction as well as funding gambling addiction clinics and improving safeguards for children and vulnerable people.
“This bill aims to help a different sort of vulnerability, that of the increasing amount of addiction to gambling which, in extreme circumstances, has led, and does lead, to suicide,” said MP Richard Graham in introducing the bill. “There is nothing more sad than meeting a constituent, or non-constituent, who has lost a child to suicide from the pressures of gambling debts. Even one life destroyed by gambling is too many, and the depressing thing is that we simply do not know how many people have committed suicide from gambling.”
GVC is also calling for other initiatives as part of its Changing for the Bettor safer gambling campaign. They include, according to the release:
• A shirt sponsorship and perimeter advertising ban. GVC wants to end all shirt sponsorship deals with UK football teams and banning match-side banner advertisements at football stadiums.
• Increased investment in research, education and treatment of gambling addiction. The company says it will raise its contribution to programs to one percent of its gross gambling revenue by 2022—or about 10 times current requirements.
• Funding gambling addiction treatment centers. GVC is establishing a new independent trust with the aim of making charitable contributions to fund treatment of problem gambling. The Leon House treatment center in Manchester has been identified as the first preferred recipient.
• Safer gambling software. To help those customers that are struggling with their gambling, GVC will offer the GamBan software, free to any individual who is showing signs of problematic play.
“Increasing investment in research, education and treatment ten-fold by 2022, funding treatment centers and using technology to intervene before a problem develops, alongside our existing behavioral analytics, brings to life our commitment to be the most trusted and enjoyable betting operator in the world,” Alexander said. “The industry should and can do more to protect the vulnerable, and today’s announcement demonstrates GVC’s commitment to delivering on that.”
Also in the UK, the Gambling Commission has released a business plan for the next year that outlines a continued focus on protecting consumers, preventing gambling-related harm and raising overall standards in the industry.
“We put consumers at the heart of our approach, which requires us to strike a balance between the enjoyment people get from gambling and the risks that gambling can present,” Commission chief executive Neil McArthur said in a press release. “Managing those risks is not just the responsibility of the individual consumer, and that is why we assess risks by looking at the providers of gambling, the products that are offered and the places in which people gamble. Our approach allows us to respond to emerging risks and issues, whilst constantly seeking ways to drive up standards.”
On the commission’s agenda for the year is a study to determine if credit cards should be banned at gambling sites, continued emphasis on fighting gambling addiction and awarding a new license for the National Lottery.