Calls for UK Gambling Advertising to be More Socially Responsible
by Glenn Baird - October 5, 2017
The Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) announced on Monday that various “enhancements” would be made to “Industry Code” regarding socially responsible advertising. The changes being implemented will be in place by the end of 2017.
This is the third addition to the code, with the most recent amendments taking place in 2016.
There have been issues raised in the media over the last few months concerning the exposure of young people to gambling advertising in the UK. The IGRG appear to be responding by introducing new rules related to social media designed to reduce the access that young people under the age of 18 have to gambling content over Twitter and YouTube.
Along with this change the IGRG have specified that all refences to GambleAware must now be changed to the charity’s new title: BeGambleAware.
The organisation has also called for operators to “do their best” to ensure that their affiliates are complying with the code.
IGRG Chairman, John Hagan said when commenting on the reforms that:
“The advertising of gambling has probably never been more in the spotlight than it is at present and we await with interest the eventual conclusions of the ongoing DCMS review. In the meantime, pursuant to our own commitment to review the Code on a regular basis, I am glad that we have brought forward now some very worthwhile additions relating to advertising on social media, affiliate marketing and the referencing of www.begambleaware.org in print and broadcast advertising.”
These proposed changes to the Industry Code came on the same that that local councils released a press statement demanding that more is done to negate the harmful effects of gambling advertising.
The Local Government Association (LGA), an organisation made up of local councils in the UK has called for “greater restrictions” to be put in place to protect the impact it can have on young people.
The LGA claim that 1 in 9 children aged between 11 and 15 are following gambling companies through social media platforms. They go on to say that figures given to them from Ofcom show that there has been a 5000% increase in gambling advertising between 2007 and 2012.
Simon Blackburn, a councillor and chair of the LGA Safer and Stronger Communities Board, stated:
“Gambling advertising on television has rocketed since the Gambling Act came into force in 2007, which is a major concern for councils who are aware of the personal harm that problem gambling can cause.
“The rise in both televised sporting events, such as Premier League football, and gambling advertising means viewers, particularly children, are being exposed to increasing amounts of gambling brands and betting messages.
“While the Gambling Act was intended to position gambling as an acceptable leisure activity, we are concerned that the volume of gambling advertising goes beyond what can be deemed the right balance between socially responsible growth and protecting individuals and communities.
“The Government should seriously consider tighter restrictions on gambling advertising that is easily accessible to, and seen by children.”
The same organisation has support recent calls to have tighter restrictions placed on fixed odds betting terminals.
In regard to this, Blackburn stated that:
“Councils are increasingly frustrated over their lack of powers to curb the proliferation of FOBTs – which currently exceed 34,000 in the UK – and the concentration of betting shops on high streets.
“Lowering maximum FOBT stakes to £2 in line with other gaming machines would help protect those at risk of problem gambling from incurring higher losses.
“Councils are not anti-bookies, but a new cumulative impact test would give them the power to veto new betting shops – and FOBTs – in places where there are already existing clusters.
“Problem gambling can lead to spiralling debt, deteriorating mental health and wellbeing, and a toll on society – and taxpayers – through crime and disorder, family breakdown and homelessness.
“It’s vital that improved social responsibility measures are implemented to help to reduce this.”
It would appear that the UK government are one of that last to actually take a stance on gambling advertising and fixed odds betting machines. However, with their review coming next month it won’t be long before the industry knows exactly what changes will be coming its way.