Britain in the News — Weekly Round-up for October 06, 2017

By Brian Cullingworth, Last updated Oct 6, 2017

UK Councils Call For Tighter Controls On Gambling Advertising

Need to cut the risk of young people become problem gamblers cited as motivation

The UK Local Government Association’s call this week for tighter restrictions on gambling advertising has achieved wide mainstream media coverage in a month where gambling issues have been repeatedly aired in the run up to the government’s release of its gambling review, scheduled for October.

The LGA, which represents city councils across Britain, motivates its call by citing the risks of problem gambling issues developing among the younger demographics.

The organisation calls on government to consider curbing the “huge rise” as it points to industry figures that suggest almost one in 10 children aged between 11 and 15 are now following gambling companies on social media.

The volume of gambling advertising, including ‘live bet’ TV adverts during matches, is undermining the government’s objective of socially responsible growth in the sector, the LGA alleges.

It additionally flags the dangers of high maximum stakes on fixed odds betting machines in retail betting shops, urging government to reduce these from GBP 100 to GBP 2.

LGA chairman Simon Blackburn said in a statement:

“Gambling advertising on television has rocketed since the Gambling Act came into force in 2007, which is a major concern for councils who are aware of the personal harm that problem gambling can cause.

“While the Gambling Act was intended to position gambling as an acceptable leisure activity, we are concerned that the volume of gambling advertising goes beyond what can be deemed the right balance between socially responsible growth and protecting individuals and communities.”

UK National Lottery Sales Disrupted By DDoS Attack

Website down for more than 90 minutes Saturday

A Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS) attack disrupted UK National Lottery sales Saturday night, the operator Camelot has confirmed, revealing that its website was down for over 90 minutes.

“Unfortunately, as experienced by many companies, the National Lottery website was subject to a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) incident for around 90 minutes this evening (from around 6pm until 7.30pm),” a statement from Camelot advised.

“This affected players trying to buy tickets from our website and via our App, although players could still buy tickets from one of our 46,000 retailers. We would like to apologise to players for the inconvenience caused in this case.”

UK media reports recalled that the attack was the seconbd such cyber assault launched against the National Lottery in less than a year…last November hackers managed to access information from 26,500 online lottery accounts.

ASA Goes After Gala Bingo

Advertising watchdog reminds operators that they cannot evade responsibility by blaming affiliates

In a reprise of last month’s damning findings into the use of “fake news” advertorials by affiliate marketers (see previous InfoPowa report) the UK Advertising Standards Authority reprimanded Gala Bingo, a unit in the Ladbrokes Coral group, this week for the same thing.

The watchdog again warned that simply terminating the affiliate and denying responsibility for the creation of his or her fake advertorial was no defence, reiterating that Gala Bingo remains ultimately responsible for content issued in promoting its business.

Gala was warned against making the same mistake twice.

Kindred Group To Drop Stan James Brand In The UK Online Market

CEO says the intention is to concentrate UK activity through the Unibet brand

The well-known Stan James online sports betting brand will be less visible in the British market in the future following a decision by owner Kindred Group to do away with the brand in favour of focusing UK market efforts and resources through its Unibet brand.

Kindred CEO Henrik Tjärnström said this week that his group will be migrating the Stan James player base to Unibet’s sports betting platform in the near future, and that Unibet is to assume all Stan James related marketing and sponsorship activities.

These include premier racing sponsorships such as the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival next year.

The Kindred decision does not impact Stan James retail operations; when the online operations of the well-established British bookmaker were acquired for GBP 19 million in late 2015, the agreement specified that the deal involved only the online operations of the bookmaker, and that the use of the Stan James brand was for a transitional period (see previous InfoPowa reports).

Kindred Group went on to acquire the popular 32Red online casino and sports betting company earlier this year for GBP 175 million, and has on a number of occasions voiced its expansion ambitions.

I.G.R.G. Commissioned Report Triggers More Criticism For UK Gambling

Independent report found that operators are undermining their own efforts to reduce harm

The gambling industry’s Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) was in the news for the second time this week, following its Code of Practice advertising recommendations earlier (see previous InfoPowa report) with exposure to criticism over its study on tackling addiction.

The body commissioned the 85-page study from independent research firm Revealing Reality, which in general was even handed but highlighted certain practical areas where it found deficiencies in responsible gambling measures, including:

* Staff in betting shops need to be better trained and motivated, in many cases not appreciating the importance of supporting responsible gambling policies;

* There was evidence that staff in some cases reinforce false beliefs regarding lucky seats, numbers or machines, exhibiting an ignorance of randomness and probabilities;

* Responsible gambling messages are not prominently displayed where punters can see them;

* Some companies set dangerously high spending limits;

* Betting shop staff are inadequately trained in identifying problem gamblers, in some cases even encouraging them to chase losses or follow flawed betting strategies.

By not vigorously promoting responsible gambling in these areas, gambling firms have undermined their own efforts to reduce harm, indicating “double standards” the survey found.

The negatives in the study immediately became the subject of media reportage, with The Guardian newspaper leading the charge.

Approached for comment, IGRG spokesman, John Hagan, pointed out that the gambling industry is working “tirelessly” to promote responsible gambling.

“It was industry recognition of the importance of raising standards of messaging and training which led to the commissioning of this report,” he noted.

GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches said that the report represented a clear wake-up call for the industry as a whole.

“Frankly, all sectors need to do more to ensure staff and customers know when, how and where to seek help,” he observed.

The Guardian also sought comment from anti-gambling Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, who responded:

“This shocking report is a litany of poor practice from an industry that is out of control. Instead of trying to help problem gamblers, and encourage responsible gambling, too often gambling firms and their staff are facilitating irresponsible behaviour.”

Watson, who has recently protested gambling shirt sponsorships in UK football, and threatened to impose a problem gambling tax on gambling operators, added:

“The gambling industry needs to take more responsibility for tackling Britain’s epidemic of gambling addiction. If they don’t, the next Labour government will make sure they will.”

Brian Cullingworth

Infopowa news was a staple of Casinomeister’s news from 2000 until 2019. Brian Cullingworth was the main writer, contributor, and was one of the most knowledgeable persons I have ever known involved in the online casino industry.

We first met in January 2001 at the ICE in London where I observed him going booth to booth interviewing online casino, software, and licensing jurisdiction representatives. Brian was also heavily involved with our forum as “Jetset“, he was involved as an informal consultant to eCOGRA, the OPA, and was a player advocate who assisted countless aggrieved players with his connections to industry folks. He also published “Casino Cautions” via Infopowa news for quite a number of years. These can be found in our news archives.

His passing in February 2019 was a dark day for us. He will be forever missed.

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