Monday, June 17, 2024

Shield children from ‘bombardment’ of gambling ads at football games, say MPs

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Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee also recommends extra online protection for young adults including a lower stake limit and thresholds for triggering financial risk checks.

By Alexandra Rogers, Political reporter @Journoamrogers

More should be done to shield children from the “bombardment” of gambling ads at football stadiums, MPs have said as they argued for greater regulation of the sector.

Parliament’s cross-party Culture, Media and Sport Committee said that while it welcomed the voluntary withdrawal of gambling sponsorship from the front of Premier League players’ shirts, the move would not reduce the volume of betting ads present during games.

The MPs on the committee recommended that the new gambling sponsorship code of conduct should ask that sports governing bodies cut the number of ads in stadiums while also promoting a higher number of ads dedicated to responsible gambling.

The report comes just months after the government published its long-awaited gambling white paper which recommended a new statutory levy on big firms in a bid to crack down on online addiction.

Other measures include maximum stakes for online slot machines and checks to “better protect even those unable to afford small losses”.

In its report, the MPs cited a recent study which found that branding on football shirts made up just 7% of all the gambling messages that were visible during 10 matches while another study revealed that 7,000 gambling messages could be seen during six matches surveyed on the opening weekend of the season.

They said that while they backed the contents of the white paper, there was “work to do” to ensure that player protection checks were minimally intrusive and protected financial data.

Britons ‘bombarded’ by gambling ads

The MPs also demanded that the government set out a detailed timetable for the proposals in the white paper given they were not mentioned in the King’s Speech last month.

Dame Caroline Dinenage, chair of the committee, said: “While gambling regulation should not overly impinge on the freedom to enjoy what is a problem-free pastime for the majority, more should be done to shield both children and people who have experienced problems gambling from what often seems like a bombardment of advertising branding at football and other sporting events.

“The government needs to go further than the proposals in the white paper and work with sports governing bodies on cutting the sheer volume of betting adverts people are being exposed to.”

The committee said extra online protection for young adults should be introduced through a lower stake limit and thresholds for triggering financial risk checks as well as a statutory levy to be paid by gambling operators to fund problem gambling research, prevention and treatment.

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A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said: “The gambling white paper outlines a balanced and proportionate package of measures, delivering greater protections for those at risk of experiencing harm, while having minimal impact on the freedoms of the large majority of punters.

“The white paper will deliver new financial risk checks, stake limits for online slots and a mandatory levy on betting firms to pay their fair share towards research, prevention and treatment of gambling addiction.

“There are already robust rules in place to ensure gambling advertising is socially responsible, and we support the work ongoing across the sport sector to develop new standards through an industry-wide code of practice.”

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Zoe Osmond, chief executive of GambleAware, said: “We know gambling marketing is almost four times more appealing to children and young people than adults, and that early exposure – seeing gambling advertising and marketing on TV or social media – can be associated with a greater risk of gambling harms later in life.

“The government’s recently published gambling white paper is a missed opportunity to strengthen regulation around gambling advertising, marketing and sponsorship in sport, and to protect children.

“We are also pleased to see the committee call for a clearer timeline regarding the implementation of the statutory levy, clarity around funding in the interim period and the development of a new national strategy to reduce gambling harms to enable effective implementation of the new system.

“This will support increased collaboration between those working to help tackle gambling harms as we enter this next phase together.”

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