The United Kingdom (UK) government is looking to impose more restrictions on the gambling industry in the country with regard to day time gambling advertisements via traditional and social media outlets. The UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) decided to tighten regulations after reports surfaced that gambling addiction in the country is growing at a rapid pace, and daytime gambling ads are increasing the exposure of children to gambling.
Gambling operators are allowed to advertise their services only after 9 pm based on current regulations but a number of these operators are using different advertising channels such as social media to advertise their products and services during the day. They also have celebrities endorsing their products and services which make them all the more appealing to a younger audience. Gambling operators in the UK have continued to pour in huge sums of money with every passing year into their advertising campaigns as it helps reach a wider audience.
The UK Gambling commission stated that gambling operators in 2012 spent £82 million on advertisements, £118.5 million in 2015 and will spend approximately £123 million before the end the year. Gambling addiction in the country has tripled amongst the 18-24 years demographic as gambling operators continue to advertise their products and services during live sports matches.
In a statement, Tracey Crouch, Sports Minister said “The government is committed to ensuring that people, particularly the young and vulnerable, are protected from the risk of gambling-related harm. We are keeping the issue of advertising under review to ensure that sufficient protections are in place, and will not hesitate to take further action if necessary”.
Crouch called on gambling operators, technology companies, and UK regulators to take more responsibility and ensure that their gambling advertisements do not target the younger generation. The government’s decision to tighten regulations on gambling advertisements have not gone down well with stakeholders who have opposed the decision. The British Horseracing Authority is one of the stakeholders that has promised to fight any new restrictions imposed by the government stating that the horseracing industry must be exempted from the new regulations because the horseracing industry and its television coverage should not be clubbed with other betting services.
Clive Hawkswood, the chief executive officer of the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) stated that the DCMS released information in 2015 concerning its review on gambling advertising in the country and the results proved there was no reason for the existing rules to be amended. British Broadcasters are also concerned about the new gambling regulations as it would impact their revenue in a significant way. The Broadcasters Advertising Association stated while the UK Gambling commission stats showed an increase in gambling advertising it did not reveal any significant increase in problem gambling and accused anti-gambling groups of pushing for these new rule changes.