Gambling Advertising Should Be Banned, Says UK’s Lord Chadlington

Child's hands holding dice

The Church of England supports a ban on gambling ads during live sporting events that could be watched by young children.

Lord Chadlington, a member of the UK’s Conservative Party, has joined forces with the Church of England, the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish National Party (SNP) to see that gambling ads are banned an hour before and an hour after sporting events, reports The Telegraph.

The alliance demands that a loophole should be closed. The loophole allows gambling companies to target viewers on TV and online with betting odds on games that may also be watched by young children. Writing in Parliament’s magazine, The House, Chadlington highlights a Labour party consultation paper on the UK’s gambling policy, which calls for a “whistle-to-whistle” ban. Going on from that, he says that gambling advertising increased by 63% to £312m ($410m) this year over 2012.

Not only that, but viewers were “overwhelmed” by 90 minutes of advertising during the 2018 World Cup.

“Is it therefore surprising that we now have 2 million people at risk of joining the estimated 430,000 problem gamblers already in the UK?” he asks.

Australia’s experience cited

Chadlington says that the government should consider Australia’s experience of banning gambling ads during sporting events, which it did earlier this year. However, as Chadlington notes, the ban only applies to five minutes before and after events.

He said: “We should learn from the Australian experience and ban gambling advertising for at least an hour before and after live sporting events. Government should also evaluate the online threats – not only advertising, but in-game gambling opportunities – in loot boxes.”

The Dutch and Belgium authorities have ruled that in-game loot boxes are illegal.

To help problem gamblers and educate young people on the risks posed, Chadlington believes that an increase in the tax applied to gambling companies will help. He indicates that the voluntary 0.1%, which raises around £10m ($13m) each year, should be raised to a mandatory 1%. That increase would bring in £130m ($171m) per year.

He goes on to say that the funds raised should be used to treat problem gamblers and to educate people, particularly the young, on gambling’s negative aspects. He also calls for “independent research into the effects of gambling advertising particularly on young children, family life and addictive behavior.”

Citing the 1965 tobacco advertising ban, which he says “positively shaped lives,” he further says: “My grandchildren may well look back on this period of UK social history when we allowed almost unfettered gambling marketing with the same bewilderment that we all now look back at a time when cigarette smoking was freely advertised on TV and sponsorship of, for example, Formula 1. Worryingly, Formula 1 just confirmed a $100m (£74.7m) global betting sponsorship deal.”

Ban supported

According to The Telegraph, Chadlington commissioned a Populus poll of 2,000 people, which showed that 58% of them supported a blanket ban on gambling advertisements in the UK. Only 14% were against it.

Vince Cable, leader of the Liberal Democrats, reportedly said that he supports closing the loophole and that it’s “clearly a sensible move to tackle addictive gambling.” The Rt. Rev. Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Alban’s, said that gambling firms have “singularly failed,” adding:

“In order to protect vulnerable people, we have to explore legislation as they are not prepared to be responsible.”

SNP MP Ronnie Cowan, vice-chair of the parliamentary group that has campaigned for curbs on fixed odds betting terminals, argued that unless measures are taken now, the risk of “normalizing gambling” to young children increases.

Despite differences of opinion among party members on various issues, Chadlington says that tackling gambling advertising and its risks is something all party members can come together on.

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