Reino Unido: As empresas de apostas e os canais de televisão opõem-se a um eventual plano de proibição da publicidade diurna

Betting firms and broadcasters have lashed out against the prospect of a ban on betting adverts on daytime TV, amid reports the government is planning a crackdown to protect...

Betting firms and broadcasters have lashed out against the prospect of a ban on betting adverts on daytime TV, amid reports the government is planning a crackdown to protect children and problem gamblers.

The two industries voiced their criticism as figures revealed that gambling firms’ spend on TV advertising has more than doubled since 2012, reaching £162m already this year.

The government is understood to be planning to include gambling adverts in an imminent review of the industry that will also investigate the spread of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) – dubbed the “crack cocaine” of gambling by campaigners.

The threat that the flow of advertising cash could be staunched hit shares in ITV, Ladbrokes and William Hill on Friday.

But the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), whose members include Ladbrokes, William Hill and Paddy Power Betfair, said there was no need for a new investigation.

The trade body said a review by the Department of Culture Media and Sport last year concluded there was no evidence for a ban on daytime TV ads.

“All the evidence was considered and it was deemed there wasn’t significant evidence to make a change of that kind,” said RGA chief executive Clive Hawkswood.

“We would never say things can’t be improved but what’s the justification? Some people have a gut reaction and that’s slightly hard to deal with.”

The Advertising Association, whose members include broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, also denied there was any reason to ban daytime gambling ads.

“It’s not unusual for people to propose advertising bans when they’re looking to make a point,” said a spokesperson. “We are open to the conversation and anyone putting new evidence around advertising gambling. Yes, advertising around online gambling has grown significantly but that hasn’t flowed through to any significant increase in problem gambling.”

Figures compiled by resesarch and analysis firm Nielsen for the Guardian show that broadcasters have raked in £162m from gambling TV spot ads already this year, compared to £118m last year.

This year’s figure has been inflated by ads linked to the Euro 2016 football tournament.

But with two and a half months of the year still to go, the figure far oustrips the £81m spent in 2012, the year of the last European Championships.

A spokesman for ITV said it already had “strict controls” in place to govern the content of gambling advertising.

It said children aged between 10 and 15 see an equivalent of only 42 seconds of gambling ads out of 17 hours spent watching TV per week.

Existing rules only allow such adverts before the 9pm watershed or during live sports events, which dominate weekend coverage on some channels.

But the effect that the increase in ad spending has had on the prevalence of problem gambling is a matter of dispute.

The Gambling Commission’s quarterly figures show the problem gambling rate nearly doubled from 0.4% of the population to 0.7% between June 2013 and June 2016 and jumped from 0.7% to 1.5% among 16- to 24-year-olds.

But the commission’s more comprehensive health survey suggests problem gambling rates were similar in 2012 to the latest quarterly figures. The next survey won’t be released until next year.

Gambling addiction campaigners said an increase in TV adverts risked luring in children who are yet to show up in figures documenting problem gambling.

“Advertising normalises gambling and encourages young persons to engage in the activity,” said Derek Webb of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, which lobbies for curbs on FOBTs (fixed odds betting terminal), a type of electronic gaming machine.

“Football advertising is getting 18-year-olds and even younger teenagers into betting shops. They are then converted by shop staff into addictive FOBT gambling through free credits, tournaments and how-to-play sessions.”

Gambling minister Tracey Crouch proposed measures to curb spending on FOBTs, which allow people to stake £100 every 20 seconds.

But the plan was overruled by former chancellor George Osborne, whose family has made £48m from the gambling industry according to the Times, which first reported the prospect of a ban on daytime gambling ads.

The government’s triennial review of gambling will also look at the use of social media to promote gambling and the impact that has on children, the newspaper reported.

Industry sources cast doubt on the prospect of a ban, saying the Department for Culture Media and Sport was mystified by reports the government was considering such a move.

A DCMS spokesperson said: “We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of existing gambling controls and will take further action if necessary.”

But stock market traders sold shares in companies they thought would be affected if the proposals become reality.

Shares in William Hill were down nearly 4% while ITV lost 4.6% and Ladbrokes lost 5% of its stock market value.

Scrutiny of gambling adverts has intensified amid a succession of payouts by firms found to have failed to prevent problem gambling and money-laundering.

Source: The Guardian