The newly appointed Chairman of Advertising Standards Authority, David Currie, is angered with the liberalization of the gambling industry, in the wake of reports confirming betting ads tempt more and more problem gamblers into the machines in Britain. He feels that the gambling industry may not be well regulated as it needed, but he indicated that ASA alone cannot solve the issue. Currie also pointed out that gambling houses who are concerned with the spread of gambling should verify the liberalization of gambling that happened in the mid-2000s. He feels that everyone should analyze whether the right policy was implemented during that time. Currie says that the situation is different in the country due to that liberation.
Note that the government has initiated steps to publish a review about the gaming industry by the end of this year. It is expected that the report would include a recommendation that regulates fixed odds betting terminals and traces links between gaming ads and increasing gaming addiction reports. As many as 2 million people in the country are reportedly at the risk of addiction or problem gamblers, per a report published by the Gambling Commission. Additionally, the number seems to be ever-increasing as there is a one-third increase is noted in the last three years.
Various campaign groups also point towards the advertising for rising number of vulnerable people into gaming. Gambling ads were not allowed in radio and TV mediums in the country until 2005. Later, the government came up with Gambling Act that permitted ads with certain restrictions. It included the ads should not be aired in and around the programs that are for under-18s, no ads before 9 p.m. except for live sporting events, and more. Even with these restrictions, the gambling ads rose from 234,000 in the year 2007 to 1.4 million in 2012.
Interestingly, 3% of the complaints received by ASA in the first half of this year were targeting gambling ads, though there is a slight dip from the last year’s data. The third week of September this year suddenly saw complaints against four betting companies regards to advertisements placed by their affiliates. SkyBet, 888, Casumo, and Ladbrokes were exposed by an ad that looked like a genuine news report about a guy who could find the cash for the treatment of his wife’s cancer with a single online bet. ASA warned the betting houses for suggesting gambling as a way of solution for various financial issues.
Currie confirmed the issue as highly unfortunate and specified the need for proper online surveillance. He also bats for making a precise definition for ads considering the interfiled ad campaign efforts year after year. Many gambling houses feel that advertising has given wider acceptance for the gambling and works as a crucial channel for adding new gamblers. Many betting houses understand that the current ad campaign trend is deceptive, and there is need to regulate the volume and tone of the betting ads. Interestingly, some of them are aware that their campaigns are misleading and cannot stand in front of ASA.