Devin O'Connor

Posted on: June 16, 2021, 09:28h. 

Last updated on: June 16, 2021, 10:36h.

A recent poll found that more than half of the UK public supports a complete ban on advertisements related to gambling. 

UK gambling advertisements
A Ladbrokes logo on the Celtic F.C. jersey of the Scottish Professional Football League. A poll finds that a majority of people in the UK want fewer gambling advertisements in sports, and on television, social media, and online. (Image: Sky Sports)

More than 12,200 people were surveyed to gauge their comfort levels with gambling products being advertised on television, radio, and online. The survey was commissioned by the Action on Smoking and Health organization and conducted by YouGov, a London-based research and analytics firm, 

The poll concluded that 63 percent of respondents said they would support a full ban on gambling advertising. Eighteen percent said they neither support nor oppose such a ban, while 14 percent said they oppose, and five percent were unsure.

“There is strong public and parliamentary support for a ban on gambling advertising,” said Carolyn Harris, a member of Parliament who chairs the Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group. 

“Gambling companies claim there is no evidence that gambling advertising causes harm. In fact, there is extensive evidence that shows how harmful gambling advertising can be, and in particular, the impact gambling adverts can have on children. Gambling advertising should be banned to protect children and those at risk from gambling harm,” she opined.

UK Gaming Review

The UK Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports (DCMS) is under a thorough review of the country’s ever-growing gaming industry. DCMS is specifically focused on how to better empower the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) to ensure that gambling isn’t resulting in societal harm. 

Whatever the DCMS recommends, the UK Gambling Commission is ready to evolve.

“We need to adapt to live up to the international reputation we have earned as an effective regulator,” UKGC Chair Dr. William Moyes said recently. 

With the latest polling showing adequate support for a ban on gambling ads, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is calling on the government to put forth restrictions on such marketing. 

Advertising is a powerful force in our society — it not only influences what we buy, but it also tells us what is normal,” said RSPH Chief Executive Christina Marriott. “We no longer allow air time to other products which harm our health, like tobacco products. Gambling should be no different.”

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), which opposes a full ban on gambling adverts, says the industry has taken drastic steps to promote responsible gambling with its marketing. 

“We’ve introduced a number of bold, evidence-led measures to address public concerns over the volume, tone, and content of advertising,” said BGC Chair Brigid Simmons. 

Support for Limited Ad Time Slots

In 2019, BCS members voluntarily decided to stop running gambling ads on television from five minutes before until five minutes after any live sporting event is broadcast. 

The YouGov poll concluded that even more strict time constraints for gambling ads might be warranted. Seventy-four percent of adults said they support not allowing gambling ads to run on television, social media, and online before 9 pm. 

Sixty-five percent additionally backed not allowing gambling companies to sponsor sporting events or teams. It’s nearly impossible to watch a major fútbol match in the UK without seeing some sort of bookmaker logo. 

In related news, YouTube announced this week that, effective immediately, it would no longer allow gambling ads on its coveted masthead.  

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