A group of the United Kingdom’s biggest bookmakers have voluntarily agreed to a “whistle-to-whistle” TV advertising ban during live broadcasts of sporting events.
The Remote Gambling Association – which includes Bet365, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power among its members – has struck a deal for the ban, the BBC reports, due to public concern over the number of betting adverts on television.
A study published in August 2017 by the Gambling Commission revealed that 430,000 people in Britain can be described as “problem gamblers” and there are also concerns that the TV adverts have helped to fuel under-age betting.
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According to The Daily Telegraph the UK’s football gambling industry is worth £1.4bn and between October 2015 and September 2016 bookies made £333.4m in profits from bets placed on the sport. All sports will be included in the ban except for horse racing which is exempt.
Explaining how the ban would work, the BBC’s Richard Conway said: “No adverts will be broadcast for a defined period before and after a game is broadcast. The proposal will include any game that starts prior to the 9pm watershed but ends after that time.”
Jeremy Wright, secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, told Telegraph Sport he was pleased that the betting companies were “stepping up” and taking action.
“Gambling firms banning advertising on TV during live sport is a welcome move and I am pleased that the sector is stepping up and responding to public concerns,” said Wright.
“It is vital children and vulnerable people are protected from the threat of gambling-related harm. Companies must be socially responsible.”
Matt Zarb-Cousin, spokesman for campaign group Fairer Gambling, told The Guardian: “This is long overdue but to be truly effective it should have also included bans on shirt and league sponsorship and pitch-side rolling displays.”
The BBC says that before the ban comes into force the proposals need to be ratified by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling. But according to industry insiders the ban could come in this month or early next year.
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