UK Gambling in Foucs

Publish: 02.10.2018

The annual Labour party conference in Liverpool this Sunday could focus on potential gambling policies. Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson earlier declared gambling a “public health emergency.” His comments were based on the results of a recent inquiry commissioned by the party which suggests that out of 430,000 identified gambling addicts in the UK, 25,000 are aged 16 or less.

Per Watson’s previous comments, introducing a “whistle-to-whistle” ban on gambling advertisements during sporting events could be one of the party’s focus points. He believes that gambling during live sporting events is particularly bad for groups vulnerable to problem gambling. The Committee of Advertising Practice and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice has announced bans on advertisements that ask users to “bet now” during a live sports broadcasts.

Watson emphasized that the party is not anti-gambling but seeks to introduce new, stricter updates to the existing regulations. He noted that even the industry suggests that TV advertising for gambling and sports betting is getting out of hand.

The party could also discuss extending the ban on TV advertisements to team sponsorships. This year, roughly 60 percent of English football teams have found lucrative sponsorship from domestic and foreign gambling and sports betting companies. These deals include logos on team t-shirts. Ironically, numerous studies have shown that footballers are one of the groups most vulnerable to problem gambling.

The party could seek a voluntary removal of gambling logos from team shorts. The clubs who refuse could face legislative actions.

Labour could also discuss banning gambling using credit cards to promote responsible gambling behavior. Debit card gambling, according to Watson, would limit the funds available to players in several users but it would not solve the issue for people with bigger bank balanced who have problem gambling habits. If the proposal is taken forward by Labour, it could create a huge dent in the gambling industry revenue as 20 percent of current payments to the betting companies are made via credit cards.

He went on to claim that current gambling regulation is not sufficient to protect vulnerable groups and addicts from risks. He also said that patchy imposition of existing laws and frequent misdiagnosis of patients add up to UK’s gambling woes.

Gambling companies must also take more responsibility for the social implications of their products and contribute extensively to treatment and research, per Watson. The Conservatives have placed the blame on previous Labour governments that relaxed the laws in the industry.