Labour calls for bookies ads ban during live TV sport but racing could be spared
Bookmakers could be stopped from advertising on TV during live sports coverage under a radical Labour proposal, though racing would potentially be exempt from the blanket ban.
In a raft of propositions announced by Tom Watson, the party's shadow secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, Labour would also introduce a statutory one per cent levy on bookmakers to fund research and treatment programmes for gambling addicts, as well as implementing a ban on betting through credit cards should they come to power.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Watson said: "Amongst a number of proposals we are saying we would ban in-game betting advertising.
"We are doing that because we were very struck with clinicians – people who are specialists in dealing with gambling addiction – who said that this is a particular problem and it has developed as these kinds of products have developed over the decade."
However, in a statement that will ease fears across racing, the document's summary of recommendations states: "We will consult with sports governing bodies and professional leagues widely before implementing this and will consider limited exemptions for sports intrinsically linked to gambling such as horseracing."
Sky Bet chief executive Richard Flint warned that Labour's idea would leave customers vulnerable to disreputable operators.
Flint said: "We’ll study the advertising proposals carefully but think any type of blanket ban removes a key incentive for operators to get a UK gambling licence and therefore could leave UK customers more vulnerable to disreputable operators."
Along with proposals tied to the banking industry which are designed to allow gamblers to self-limit funds deposited in online accounts and a proposed ban on betting by credit card, Watson also outlined Labour's plans to introduce a statutory one per cent levy on bookmaker profits.
This would replace the industry's current voluntary contribution of around £10 million a year towards funding treatment and and research into the causes and effects of problem gambling.
Watson said: "We are saying that it should be compulsory and it should be one per cent, which would bring in about £140m a year. That would allow us to treat more gambling addicts when they require help with their condition."
Government rejected advertising ban in the spring
The Conservative government's gambling review, which was published in May, majored on its headline measure of dramatically cutting the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) but stopped well short of Labour's proposed ban on bookmaker advertising around live sport.
On Thursday the DCMS reiterated that steps are being taken to tighten the rules in conjunction with the betting and advertising industries, especially in relation to content that could appeal to children.
A spokesperson said: "We have taken decisive action to ensure that the most vulnerable in society are protected from the threat of gambling-related harm. As well as cutting the maximum FOBT stake from £100 to £2, we have increased safeguards on online gambling, introduced tougher rules on betting adverts and ensured the industry funds a new multi-million-pound responsible gambling campaign that will launch later this year."
Most broadly welcoming of the tenor of the Labour proposals was a statement from the Remote Gambling Association.
Brian Wright, RGA director of business, said: "The government review concluded that the evidence did not support further restrictions on advertising and we would therefore be interested to understand more of the detail behind the Labour Party’s proposals in this area, but we would certainly not be averse to additional advertising restrictions if they are effective in addressing some of the concerns identified in this review."
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