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UK Government Urges Betting Firms To Step Up

April 29, 2020

- Grant Whittington

UK government officials have urged gambling and sports betting operators to step up existing efforts of protecting society’s most vulnerable from the dangers of problem gambling. Folks are now more than ever before prone to succumb to the temptations posed by online casino games, and when not equipped with the correct tools in order to properly respond to those temptations, many end up falling into destructive cycles of addictive behaviour. Leading online sports betting brands already offer numerous responsible gambling tools, and these stand them in good stead with the regulators and government.

However, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has in a letter of appeal addressed to the CEOs of five of the UK’s largest gambling operators, urged those in power to not merely uphold existing safeguards, but to in effect go above and beyond the provisions of a 10-point “pledge” published by the Betting and Gaming Council (BCG). The minister appears to be exceptionally dissatisfied with the content of the list of “pledges” and has described the sum-total of that appearing on the list as “weak”. Various MPs have joined Huddleston in his summary of the situation and 10-point list.

Letter To The Big Five

Huddleston addressed a standard letter of appeal to the CEOs of GVC Holdings (owners of Ladbrokes), Bet365, William Hill, Flutter Entertainment and SkyBet. The main message of the letter of appeal seemed to be that of a plight involving operators attaching safer gambling warning messages to those adverts that are to appear more prominent and on fuller and more extensive display for the duration of the current crisis faced by world governments and individuals alike.

The minister in his letter of appeal referred to what he described as a heightened risk for all gamblers and said that the only truly practical help and remedy would be to warn of the possible risks of problem-behaviour in terms of specifically the gambling industry, and supported by information about help and support being at hand displayed clearly and in such a way that the information can be described as obvious. Huddleston also stressed the importance of the relevant information being displayed and worded in such a manner that it becomes increasingly more obvious to all customers.

An Advertising Issue

Whilst it’s true that there doesn’t really exist much in the way of cut-and-dry evidence suggesting any increase in advertising volumes as far as online games go in current times, there does appear to be definite evidence supporting the fact that folks appear to be turning to online casino games in the absence of being able to bet on major sports events.

Evidence furthermore suggest that the advertisements that do end up making it all the way to the pages of social media, tend to focus on a lack of one activity being a possible means toward compensation for another, being in this case online casino games offering the perfect substitute for traditional wagering on sports.

Games Up, Sports Down

The existing evidence mainly consists of signs relating to an increase in the overall support of online casino games. Online casino games are generally associated with an increase in addictive behaviour, and perhaps more often so than not and when compared with typical betting on sports.

It has not helped that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has joined the concerned-citizens party by having reported signs of a definite increase of the use of online casino gaming software. Online casino games have been cited in some 9.2% of all cases relating to problem gaming behaviour. When compared with the 2.5% for online sports betting, this figure is relatively high and understandably very worrisome.

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