Kenny Alexander, chief executive GVC Holdings – the owners of Ladbrokes Coral – is set to call for a ban on gambling adverts before the 9pm watershed at a parliamentary launch this week.
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- ‘Most people in the gambling industry think there are far too many ads,’ he said
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The boss of Britain’s largest gambling firm last night called for a complete ban on betting adverts around live football matches before 9pm.
Kenny Alexander, chief executive of GVC Holdings – the company that owns bookmakers Ladbrokes Coral – said he had decided to support the proposed ban after speaking to gambling addicts in rehab centres.
He said he had learned that problem gambling can be ‘dangerous and destructive’ and can leave people ‘without hope’.
And he accepted that there are ‘undoubtedly far, far too many adverts’ around football games.
Mr Alexander said he hoped other bookmakers, such as Paddy Power and William Hill, would agree to a voluntary ban on betting around live football matches before the 9pm watershed.
But if they did not do so, the Government should step in and impose one.
The Daily Mail has highlighted the dangers of gambling adverts which appear before live games and at half time, and give viewers up-to-the-minute odds for betting on the score or, for example, how many corners there will be.
Campaigners are alarmed because they give viewers the impression they have only a short period to take advantage of the odds on offer, which psychiatrists say encourages spur-of-the-moment gambling and fuels addiction.
During the World Cup, viewers in the UK were exposed to almost 90 minutes of betting adverts.
The Church of England has demanded a ban on such adverts from an hour before live sports events to an hour after, and has warned of a ‘moral crisis’ for children as gambling is ‘normalised’.
Last month Labour also called for a ban, saying gambling is a ‘public health emergency’.
Mr Alexander spoke at an event in Parliament yesterday where he unveiled millions of pounds of funding for Sports Aid, which gives financial support to young sports stars.
He also announced a new ‘corporate social responsibility’ initiative to minimise potential harm caused by gambling, including millions of pounds towards education programmes.
He told MPs: ‘I am one of the leaders of an industry that has had much criticism over the past few years. I think much of it is justified.
‘In the past six months or so I have looked into the area of problem gambling to educate myself about it. I’ve been at the coalface: I’ve visited gambling rehab centres, spoken to many of the people there, listened to their issues.
‘The vast majority of people who come to our websites have a very enjoyable experience. But it can be dangerous and it can be destructive.
‘Many of those people in residential rehab centres have lost their wives, they have lost their families, they’ve lost their money and many have lost all hope. We take this very seriously.’
Mr Alexander went on: ‘We think there should be a complete ban on live betting around football matches before the watershed. If you watch live football there are undoubtedly far, far too many adverts.
‘There has been a lot of research around young people – 75 per cent of them said there were too many live adverts around football. They are probably the most vulnerable to problem gambling, so if they say there’s too many adverts, it’s fair to say there’s too many adverts.’