Operators to fund new advertising campaign in move to prevent harm
Gambling operators are to fund a responsible gambling advertising campaign worth up to £7 million a year as part of the government's review of the sector.
However, calls for gambling advertising to be banned before the 9pm watershed, prompted by concerns over children being exposed to ads during sporting events, have not brought government action.
There had been concerns in racing that free-to-air broadcasting of the sport on ITV could be hit by new regulations.
The government said the responsible gambling campaign would have a budget of £5-7m per year funded by operators to include TV adverts around live sport, as well as radio, cinema, online and print.
Problem gambling charity GambleAware welcomed the move. Chief executive Marc Etches said: "We should treat gambling-related harm as a public health problem, like alcohol or obesity, working on prevention as well as treatment.
"We're delighted to be asked to lead a new, independent, multi-million-pound campaign to help raise awareness of the risks and the free help available."
Strict controls in place
A spokesman for ITV said the broadcaster took its responsibilities to viewers "very seriously" and that its compliance with all advertising codes relating to gambling had been 100 per cent.
They added: "Strict controls on broadcasters are already in place to govern the content of gambling advertising – not only are ads governed by the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising, the industry itself has also developed its own set of regulations to protect viewers, particularly children."
New gambling advertising guidelines are also set to be drawn up, while the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) is to strengthen the code on responsible gambling advertising to require operators to ensure gambling content and channels cannot be accessed by under-18s via social media.
Online gambling under scrutiny
Online gambling has not escaped the government's attention, with the Gambling Commission set to launch a consultation with the aim of raising standards of player protection.
Remote Gambling Association chief executive Clive Hawkswood said: "There is a great deal to consider in this important paper and we'll naturally want time to consider it properly before commenting in detail and responding to the consultation.
"However, we completely support the government’s intention to ensure proportionate and effective safeguards for consumers are in place.
"We recognise there are concerns about aspects of gambling advertising and it's helpful this paper can provide the basis for an informed debate about the issues."
Government warning on funding
The government has also warned it will consider a mandatory levy on gambling operators if they do not step up funding for research, education and treatment.
The gambling industry contributes more than £8m a year to GambleAware, but the charity is looking to raise £10m to deliver the National Responsible Gambling Strategy.
Etches added: “With 430,000 problem gamblers in need of treatment, we need all those who profit from gambling to fund our work.
"The current voluntary system is not delivering. That's why GambleAware is calling for a statutory levy, something we're pleased to see the government considering if the industry does not step up its efforts."
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