Gambling Watchdog to Look into TV Advertising

Published on Monday 22nd September 2014, 12:30 pm
Posted in: Casino Legal

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UK gambling operators will be be re-thinking the way they do TV advertising following the introduction of the new Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act on October 1. While the exact details of the bill have yet to be revealed, some of the country’s biggest operators have attempted to preempt the sanctions by forming a new voluntary watchdog. The Senet Group is made up of Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, William Hill and Gala Coral, all of whom have committed themselves to policing the way gambling is marketed in the UK.

The biggest change is likely to be the withdrawal of pre-watershed adverts, in which players are offered free money for signing up. Major operators have also agreed to ban advertising of gaming machines in betting shop windows in an attempt to promote responsible gambling.

The big four operators have also published a full page open letter on the effects of gambling in several UK national newspapers. The Senet Group is expected to start meeting regularly from January as the effects of the new laws come into play. It has already planned to fund an educational advertising campaign which will help those suffering from gambling problems. One of the biggest concerns for the group is the prevalence of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), which have been blamed for an increase in gambling addiction and other associated issues.

Not everyone has welcomed the new watchdog, with some criticizing it as nothing more than a way to maintain current profits while putting on a friendly face for the general public. The Campaign for Fairer Gambling has slammed the new initiative, with a spokesperson saying that "The bookmakers are engaging in desperate conjuring tricks to protect their FOBT market monopoly and, put simply, this is just more smoke and mirrors.
"If the Gambling Commission was fit for purpose there would not be the need for a watchdog. But for any such watchdog to have credibility it should be neither industry-run nor industry-funded."
The move to self-regulate comes after several operators, including Mansion Poker and PokerStars, were forced to exit the UK market due to the bill’s new taxation regulations. Despite this, the Government are said to be expecting more growth in the industry over the next five years. In 2013 the UK online gambling market generated revenues of £2.5 billion and Government predictions say an increase of 10-15% is likely to happen in the near future.

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