Some of the biggest land-based and online gaming and sportsbetting operators in the United Kingdom have reportedly voluntarily agreed to cease flogging their wares on television and radio for the remainder of the nation’s coronavirus-related lockdown.
According to a Monday report from The Guardian newspaper, the move comes after a cross-party group of over 20 MPs called for a strict curb on such firms marketing their services to a population that is well into its second month of an indeterminate public health quarantine.
The newspaper reported that the effort will apply to radio and television advertisements from members of The Betting and Gaming Council, which represents approximately 90% of all gaming, sportsbetting, casino and bingo operators in the United Kingdom, until at least June 5 and is to moreover involve pre-booked spots being removed or handed over to safe gambling charities from next Thursday.
The Guardian reported that the British population has been in the midst of a lockdown designed to stop the spread of a coronavirus strain that has so far killed approximately 21,000 locals since March 23. The MPs were purportedly worried about the impacts of such an increasingly house-bound population turning to online gambling for entertainment and subsequently referred to measures contained within an industry-suggested marketing freeze as ‘very weak’.
Prominent Labour politician Carolyn Harris heads the all-party Parliamentary group on gambling-related harm and reportedly told the newspaper that such an advertising block should have been applied from initiation of the lockdown so as to protect addicts and potentially vulnerable individuals who may now be stuck in their homes.
Harris reportedly told The Guardian…
“This is a clear admission that gambling advertising is having a profound effect on the levels of problem gambling we are seeing across the United Kingdom. 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. It’s vital that this is extended to all gambling advertising on all mediums throughout this pandemic.”
In response and the Chief Executive for The Betting and Gaming Council, Michael Dugher, reportedly told the newspaper that his group’s members ‘have sought to protect customers potentially at risk’ from the first day of the lockdown and that this voluntary cessation ‘further underlines our commitment to safer betting and gaming’ practices. He moreover purportedly declared that the United Kingdom has not seen an explosion in rates of online gambling and that operators are to be allowed to continue marketing their wares across other channels including social media and e-mail.
Dugher reportedly told The Guardian…
“There will always be alarmist noises from anti-gambling prohibitionists who just want to grab headlines. We are determined to do everything we can to protect customers potentially at risk during this lockdown period and beyond.”