The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling-related Harm (APPG) has upped its campaign against exposure to betting by writing to two of the biggest names in commercial television in the UK, ITV and Channel 5, in a bid to get them to consider suspending advertisements from betting companies on daytime television.
Speaking about its rationale for the decision, the APPG stated:
“Gambling companies are sponsoring programmes which seek to glamorise gambling with the aim of targeting women and young people and encouraging them to gamble.”
“We are very concerned that television companies are promoting gambling, we have ourselves seen first-hand the harm and devastation that gambling can cause to young people’s lives, families and communities.”
One example used by the group was that the popular Channel 5 soap opera, Neighbours, is sponsored by Gala Bingo.
They also argued that due to the impact of the Coronavirus and the lockdowns that have been put in place across society, that younger children are more likely to come across these gambling advertisements at home, than when they would have been in school and that this could encourage underage people to gamble.
A panel of 52 experts had also backed the calls for action.
The APPG has run a number of successful campaigns against aspects of the betting industry in recent times.
The cross-party group, headed up by Labour MP Carolyn Harris, has successfully lobbied for it now to be against the law to use credit cards to fund betting accounts in the United Kingdom.
They have also been successful in reducing how much can be spent on Fixed Odds betting terminals, which was much to the chagrin of a number of high street bookmakers who complained that the terminals offered they a key revenue source.
More Stringent Measures
Despite these successes, the APPG is also pushing hard for more stringent measures to be implemented across the United Kingdom. This includes a ban on all forms of gambling advertisements, a ban in online in-play betting, and the removal of the VIP schemes or similar that many sports betting sites offer for customers that spend a higher than usual amount of money with them.
The APPG also claimed that there were half a million gambling addicts in the UK, with more than 55,000 children between the ages of 11 and 16 believed to have some kind of gambling problem.
So far, legislators in the UK have tried to toe a line between giving the campaigners some of what they want, while still allowing the many sportsbooks and other gambling operators in the UK to run their businesses responsibly and profitably.
Criticism Of The Legislation
Not everyone thinks the new proposals are a good idea. The evidence offered by the group is somewhat spurious and difficult to reconcile the data. Furthermore, it should be noted that all forms of gambling from sports betting, bingo, to more modern types of betting like esports betting, In-Play betting, and Virtual Sports betting are all completely legal in the UK.
Not only that, but responsible gambling companies actively promote safe, responsible gambling and have certainly made that much more prevalent in their advertising in recent times.
There seems little point in having a legal gambling industry in the UK, and then legislating against it to the point where it cannot be sustainable. As such, it seems unlikely the APPG is going to get everything that it wants.
There is also the fact that gambling is inherent in British society and has been so for the last century if not considerably longer. Issues being reported now were also being reported back then, with no such advertising in place.
It is a thorny issue and one that needs to be addressed as gambling online is set to continue to grow regardless of what the APPG wants or would like.