Rumours that Department of Culture, Media and Sport plans another review disturb the market
Friday's speculation that the UK government's Department of Culture, Media and Sport may be planning a new review of FOBTs, social media gambling promotion and day-time gambling advertisements have continued to disturb the market and generate comment.
The UK Advertising Association, whose members include broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, opined that there was no valid reason for any plans to ban day-time advertising, with a spokesman commenting:
"It's not unusual for people to propose advertising bans when they're looking to make a point. We are open to the conversation and anyone putting new evidence around advertising gambling.
"Yes, advertising around online gambling has grown significantly but that hasn't flowed through to any significant increase in problem gambling."
The Guardian newspaper reported on figures compiled by research and analysis firm Nielsen which show that broadcasters have accrued GBP 162 million from gambling TV spot ads already this year, compared to GBP 118 million last year.
Advertising this year has been boosted by advertisements flowing from the Euro 2016 football championships, significantly up on 2012 – the last championship year – which delivered GBP 81 million.
ITV noted that it strictly controls the frequency and content of gambling advertisements, and produced statistics showing that children aged between 10 and 15 see an equivalent of only 42 seconds of gambling ads out of 17 hours spent watching TV per week.
The effect that the increase in gambling adspend has on the prevalence of problem gambling has also been questioned.
Gambling Commission quarterly figures show the problem gambling rate nearly doubled from 0.4 percent of the population to 0.7 percent between June 2013 and June 2016 and jumped from 0.7 percent to 1.5 percent among 16 to 24-year-olds… figures widely used by anti-gambling bodies in calling for advertising restrictions.
However, a more comprehensive health study – also from the Commission – points to little if any increase in problem gambling levels since 2012.
This apparent anomaly will hopefully be cleared up with the results of the next Commission prevalence survey results due in 2017.
Derek Webb, a vociferous anti-gambling spokesman, continued to attack day-time gambling advertising, claiming that it "normalises" gambling behaviour for minors and encourages them to become gamblers.
"Football advertising is getting 18-year-olds and even younger teenagers into betting shops," said Webb. "They are then converted by shop staff into addictive FOBT gambling through free credits, tournaments and how-to-play sessions."
The speculation around a possible further government review impacted gambling and broadcasting stocks, with shares in William Hill down nearly 4 percent, while ITV lost 4.6 percent and Ladbrokes lost 5 percent of its stock market value.
The Guardian newspaper reported that industry sources have questioned the prospect of a government review or a ban, saying the Department for Culture, Media and Sport was 'mystified' by reports the government was considering such a move.
Approached by The Guardian, a DCMS spokesperson said: "We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of existing gambling controls and will take further action if necessary."
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