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UK – Responsible gambling group confirms ‘whistle to whistle’ ban on TV gambling ads

By - 14 December 2018

As part of its annual review process, the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling has confirmed a ‘whistle to whistle’ ban on all TV betting adverts during pre-watershed live sport, starting five minutes before the event begins, and ending five minutes after it finishes.

Additional measures include an end to betting adverts around highlight shows and re-runs, and an end to pre-watershed bookmaker sponsorship of sports programmes. These changes, which will effectively stop betting adverts from being shown in commercial breaks during televised live sport, are expected to be introduced in the summer of 2019 and exclude horse and greyhound racing programmes. These measures are complementary to the additional restrictions that have been made by some broadcasters, which include limiting betting adverts during the ‘build up’ shows prior to live sport to one advert per break.

John Hagan, Chair of IGRG, said: “The gambling industry is responding positively to public concerns about the amount of gambling advertising on television before the watershed. We are announcing a ‘whistle to whistle’ ban on gambling advertising during all televised live sport before the watershed, with the exception of horseracing and greyhound racing. We are also announcing a ban on any gambling advertising during re-runs of sporting events and highlight shows before the watershed. We believe that these new voluntary TV measures, which have been approved by the trade associations representing every sector of the gambling industry, will drastically reduce the amount of gambling advertising on television and they complement the strict controls that already govern gambling companies around advertising on digital platforms. We believe that this is itself a watershed moment as we strive to provide the ever, safer gambling environment which gambling consumers and the wider public expect, and which is so important to the future success and sustainability of our industry.”

Jeremy Wright MP, the Secretary of State Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport made the following statement: “Gambling firms banning advertising on TV during live sport is a welcome move and I am pleased that the sector is stepping up and responding to public concerns. It is vital children and vulnerable people are protected from the threat of gambling-related harm. Companies must be socially responsible.”

Neil McArthur, Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission said: “At our annual Raising Standards Conference last month I highlighted the need for industry to act together in response to public concerns about gambling advertising. Today’s announcement is a significant step forward in demonstrating that this is an industry that is starting to listen to its customers and the wider public. Importantly, it also demonstrates the value of collaborating across companies and across sectors to make gambling fairer and safer. I hope that this can be used as a model for future industry action to reduce and prevent harm.”

Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, said: “This is an important first step in recognising that the proliferation of gambling adverts has got completely out of hand. It was imperative for the industry to accept there is a problem and they have done that today. The next step will have to be addressing the gambling adverts that children and vulnerable problem gamblers see online.”

Anna Hemmings, CEO at GamCare, said: “For many people gambling is not a harmful activity, but for some it can become a serious problem. Many of our service users have told us that the volume of gambling advertisements on television and elsewhere is not helpful to them in maintaining their recovery, so the news that gambling advertising during live sporting events will be reduced is welcome. We would also welcome more research and discussion around the potential impacts gambling advertising can have on vulnerable people so that safeguards can continue to develop and protect people from future harms.”

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