It seems that UK betting companies and broadcasting operators are becoming more engaged with problem gambling behaviour, as they have offered the country’s Government to fund an addiction awareness campaign that is worth £8 million. The proposal comes after the Labour Party warned that such a step would not come as an attempt to manipulate competent authorities and make them lift some of the restrictions on betting adverts.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is expected to publish its review of the UK gambling industry in only a few weeks now. It is expected to include not only more details on the Government’s opinion on the controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), but also to include its opinion on the constantly increasing number of betting advertisements aired on television.
Gambling Awareness Campaign Funding
As mentioned above, the gambling awareness campaign is estimated to £8 million. The trade body for online casinos – the Remote Gambling Association is to cover part of the costs, while other part of the campaign’s expenses are to be met by the Senet Group. The latter has been formed by the local gambling industry to back responsible betting.
Guardian reported that according to some documents, local gambling operators, broadcasting companies and advertisers responded to the Government’s review on the UK gambling sector with a joint offer as part of a national campaign aimed to demonstrate their commitment to problem gambling awareness. Gambling addictions and problem gambling behaviour have become one of the most serious issues associated with the local gambling industry, so companies now want to demonstrate they remain engaged to the authorities’ campaigns aimed at dealing with such addictions.
Another organisation that has said it was willing to contribute to the campaign is the Advertising Association. TV channels also got engaged to raise gambling awareness with free airtime for adverts aimed to deal with problem gambling behaviour.
The campaign, which is expected to be officially launched at the beginning of 2018, is being coordinated by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) – an organisation which has some of the largest casinos, arcade games operators, sports betting companies and online gaming operators among its members. For the time being, the trade body for amusement arcade games, Bacta, as well as the National Casino Forum and the Bingo Association have said they were unwilling to fund any initiatives associated with the campaign.
Labour Party Deputy Leader Reaction
The deputy leader of the Labour Party Tom Watson raised a red flag, saying that the initiative came at the exact moment when the Government has been considering possible stricter restrictions in order to deal with current concerns related to negative effects that gambling could have on local players. According to him, betting operators, advertisers and broadcasting operators must not try to manipulate the authorities to avoid tighter regulation on gambling activities and advertising.
Mr. Watson, who has earlier urged the Government to suspend football clubs gambling sponsorship agreements, said that problem gambling campaigns funded by gambling companies that operate in the local market even could not come as an alternative of suitable regulation of the industry. Labour Party’s deputy leader further added that recent research have shown that gambling addictions become increasingly serious in the UK and local authorities could not rely on the gambling operators’ voluntary actions aimed at dealing with the issue.