Some of the UK’s biggest bookmakers have agreed to a ban on betting adverts being shown during live sporting events.
The Remote Gambling Association (RGA), whose members include Paddy Power, bet365 and Ladbrokes, have penned a voluntary deal that will prevent them from advertising during all sports from ‘whistle to whistle’, even those after the 9pm watershed.
It comes after pressure from government ministers to limit or even ban betting ads in an attempt to curb problem gambling. A troubling audit by the Gambling Commission also found that there are more than 50,000 problem gamblers aged between 11-16 in the UK, who would be vulnerable to such ads during live Premier League matches in the middle of the afternoon.
One exception to the rule will be horse racing, which generates a huge percentage of its income through gambling. All other sports will be included in the terms of the deal, which is expected to be ratified in time for the start of the 2019/20 season.
The RGA’s spokesperson said: “The Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising is reviewed annually, and several options are currently being considered as the basis for possible enhancements in 2019.
“However, nothing has yet been finalised.”
Ad Ban Possibly the First Step in Regulatory Overhaul
It’s another blow for the industry following in the wake of the FOBT maximum stake reduction, and it is likely that an ever sharper focus on gambling’s association with sport will follow.
A Gambling Commission source said: “We understand that options for enhancing the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising are currently under review.
“We would welcome any steps to address public concerns about gambling advertising.
“Last month we brought together senior leaders from over 100 gambling companies to look at how they can work together to make gambling fairer and safer, including considering the approach they take to advertising.”
Football’s Stance Crucial in Tackling Problem Gambling
The vast majority of adverts from betting firms are shown before a match, during the half-time break and immediately after a game has ended.
Firms like bet365, with the almost ubiquitous Ray Winstone, Betfair and Paddy Power have all advertised their 18+ products prior to the TV watershed.
The voluntary ban is a logical step in helping to protect the vulnerable, and it should be noted that the bookies are free to advertise at times where no significant live sport is being broadcast.
It is probably the first of many steps that ensure a crackdown in the visibility of betting firms, and football is likely to take the lead on minimising the amount of impact marketing that bookies have in the game.
In the coming years, it is expected sponsorship deals with football clubs, from shirt sponsorship to the proliferation of ‘approved betting partners’ will come under closer scrutiny. And could bookies inside the ground become a thing of the past?
The Football Association has already ended their partnership with Ladbrokes, and it is likely that clubs will be leaned on to follow suit as problem gambling becomes an issue even more widely discussed in the public domain.
Going in-play with Ray may not be the only betting-related content that disappears from football and sport in general in the coming year ahead.