UK gaming operators are to cease advertising gambling products on TV and radio during the corona lockdown.
Members of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) will as of May 7th cease all TV and radio advertising for the duration of the lockdown as part of their commitment to responsible gambling behaviour. The self-imposed ban by the UK’s biggest betting and gaming companies will stay in place until at least June 5th with any pre-booked slots either featuring safe gambling messaging or removed entirely in broadcasters permitted.
The BGC, which represents 90% of operators in the UK, has also pledged to increase the messaging around responsible gambling behaviour after a direct request from the Minister for Sport, Travel & Heritage Nigel Huddleston as part of a communication to the council asking for more to be done. Many of the points raised were already part of a 10-point plan published in March to increase player safety during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The chief executive of the BGC Michael Dugher said “we have been working closely with our members since the crisis began to monitor the impact of betting and gaming”. He added that the suspension of live sport on TV and the closure of betting shops and casinos had meant that overall gambling was down but recognised the need to remove product advertising as a further safeguard.
“From day one of this crisis we have sought to protect customers. This latest move by the regulated industry underlines our commitment to safer betting and gaming. The BGC has worked very closely with the government. Ministers and the regulator deserve credit for their steadfast and consistent determination to have an evidence led approach and to call for higher standards”.
Carolyn Harris, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Gambling Related Harm, said a block on all advertising should have been implemented from the first day of lockdown. “This is a clear admission that gambling advertising is having a profound effect on the level of problem gambling we are seeing across the UK,” she said. “I welcome today’s decision but I wish it could have been made on day one of the lockdown, rather than six weeks down the line. The damage already done is hard to comprehend.
The move should be welcomed, and it is disappointing that the APPG couldn’t recognise another positive step from the industry. The evidence-based approach of creating measured action will continue to enhance the collective reputation of the industry and the collaboration between all the members will lead to those actions being more impactful. The industry who are under severe impact itself from the lockdown has under taken a very obvious commitment to players with the advertisement suspension and that is commendable. A continuation of this type of focus and commitment post lockdown will go a long way to proving that the industry is dedicated to the well-being of those who enjoy gambling as a form of leisure.