Gambling bosses have today announced that they are “responding to public concerns” after confirming that there are now plans in place to effectively ban betting and gambling adverts from appearing on TV during live sporting events, before the watershed.
Only a week or so back, Casinomeister reported that some of the world’s biggest betting companies were looking at a voluntary self-ban on betting adverts during television adverts, pending the result of a meeting between some of the biggest names in the business, and in the last few days the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (known as the IGRG) has come out to confirm the ban, with it set to commence in 2019.
Under the new rules, betting adverts will no longer be shown during live sport coverage that that’s aired on TV before 21:00 in the UK, and this applies to all sporting events aside from horse racing and greyhound racing, both of which are excluded from the ban due to the industries relying on the advertising revenue too heavily.
The ban also covers events that begin before the watershed, but that end after it – and it also covers reruns of sporting events and highlight shows that are shown before 21:00.
The chair of the IGRG – John Hagan – said:
“We believe that this is itself a watershed moment as we strive to provide the ever safer gambling environment which gambling consumers and the wider public expect, and which is so important to the future success and sustainability of our industry.”
“Today the gambling industry is responding positively to public concerns about the amount of gambling advertising on television before the watershed.”
What’s Caused The Ban?
Betting companies came under criticism for their advertising coverage during the 2018 World Cup, with over 90 minutes of adverts shown between the tournament’s football matches, and this sparked a social and political debate into the unethical nature of having so many adverts. Critics and anti-gambling campaigners stated that this amount of advertising helps to ‘normalise’ betting, and also preys on the youth, by enticing them to gamble.
There were also concerns reported that the adverts helped contribute towards the growing number of problem gamblers in the UK. There are, at present, an estimated 430,000 people in the UK who display signs of problem gambling, according to the country’s Gambling Commission.
As criticism continued to grow, the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) came together and voluntarily agreed to look at self-regulating TV adverts for companies within the association. This includes bookmaker giants like Bet365, Paddy Power, and Ladbrokes. Once this initial proposal was agreed on, the IGRG – a collective body made up of five different gambling associations – ratified the ban.
Hagan went on to say: “the ban will drastically reduce the amount of gambling advertising on television and they complement the strict controls that already govern gambling companies around advertising on digital platforms”.
So far, the ban appears to be going down well with politicians, and Jeremy Wright, the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said the ban is a “welcome move”.
He said: “I am pleased that the sector is stepping up and responding to public concerns.
“It is vital children and vulnerable people are protected from the threat of gambling-related harm. Companies must be socially responsible.”
Reaction to the ban hasn’t all been positive, however, with Stephen van Rooyen – CEO of the well-known broadcaster Sky, worrying that the move will force betting companies to simply shift their advertising focus to different forms of advertising.
“Yet again, the gambling industry are ignoring the fact they spend five times more on online marketing than they do on TV,” he said.
“By cutting TV ads, they’ll simply spend more online, bombarding people’s smartphones, tablets and social media feeds with even more gambling ads.
“A proportionate and responsible limit to gambling advertising across all media is the right thing to do.”
Deputy Labour leader, Tom Watson, stated on Thursday that: “This is an important first step in recognising that the proliferation of gambling adverts has got completely out of hand.
“It was imperative for the industry to accept there is a problem and they have done that today.
“The next step will have to be addressing the gambling adverts that children and vulnerable problem gamblers see online.”
The ban also garnered support from the Gambling Commission’s chief executive Neil McArthur, with him saying: “Today’s announcement is a significant step forward in demonstrating that this is an industry that is starting to listen to its customers and the wider public.”