Gambling companies say they will review the number of sports betting adverts broadcast on UK television following “public concerns”.

The Remote Gambling Association (RGA), which includes household name firms such as Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, and William Hill, said it was “very mindful of public concerns” and will discuss options to limit the volume of gambling advertising on television, especially during football and other sports matches. Possible options under review include:

  • A complete ban on pre-watershed advertising by gambling companies
  • Restricting the number of gaming adverts to one per commercial break
  • Banning the ‘in-play’ ads during live broadcast of football and other matches

The RGA’s decision to review gambling advertising follows a series of reports on a rising number of people affected by problem gambling in the UK. A study published last week showed that the number of children classed as having a gambling problem had quadrupled to more than 50,000 in under two years and the Gambling Commission says there are around 430,000 problem gamblers in the UK.

The RGA said: “The process for deciding what enhancements and additions might be introduced in 2019 is currently underway. At this stage it would be wrong to speculate on the outcome of the review.

“But we are all very mindful of the public concerns that have been expressed about the amount of sports betting advertising that takes place on television.”

Spokesperson for Fairer Gambling Matt Zarb-Cousin commented: “Gambling operators are waking up to the overwhelming public opposition to advertising, particularly during live sporting events. It’s a rare occasion where spend on marketing to improve the image of companies is actually having the total opposite effect.”

The discussions follow the launch of another initiative by a number of the UK’s biggest and best online casino and betting firms to help problem gamblers keep their spending under control called GAMSTOP. The scheme offers a method of self-exclusion, where those who want to limit their gambling can preemptively ban themselves from a vast number of gambling websites and apps. Membership of GAMSTOP is optional during this first stage of roll-out, but the Gambling Commission is due to make joining the scheme compulsory “in due course”.


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