Is Something better than Nothing?

The parent company behind the Ladbrokes and Coral betting brands has called for a ban on shirt front and perimeter advertising of gambling brands.

It has also put forward a voluntary ban on all sports betting advertising at any time of the day. Regulations are already on the way for next season banning ‘whistle to whistle’ adverts but this goes further on all live and recorded sport with the exception of horse racing.

Advertising specifically promoting responsible gambling and safer gambling campaigns would be permitted, but strictly limited to one advertisement per commercial break.

The ban on shirt front and perimeter advertising would have a potential multi million knock on the Premier League where half the teams have such a main sponsor. The majority are Asian facing betting companies, operating in the digital space and there is a hint that the ban would impact them far more than Ladbrokes whose involvement in those media and at that level is relatively limited.

Cynical

It is easy to be cynical about the move and that has been the response from some who would be active in campaigning against gambling.

The move comes at a time when there is broad unease with the sheer volume of gambling messages and could be intended to head off wider prohibition.

It would have less of an impact on Irish sport where all forms of gambling advertising are banned by the GAA and is quite limited elsewhere.

Mr Green, an online casino and betting brand sponsors Bohemians and Sport peas back Waterford as well as having a partnership with the FAI.

Digital

One area where there has been no mention of a ban but where regulation might need to be tightest and where a return on investment from betting companies could be the most effective is in the digital space.

Again to be cynical, TV and Premier League shirt fronts are expensive and it may be that in a changing world of consumption budgets would be shifting regardless.

That all said there are elements of the GVC proposals that are worthy of praise and that could have an appreciable impact, certainly more so than doing nothing.

GVC has committed to increasing its own investment in research, education and training related to problem gambling from it’s current rate of 0.2 per cent of gross UK gambling revenue to one per cent by 2022. The industry benchmark is only one tenth of that so there should be long term gain in this key area.

Trust

GVC is also establishing a new independent trust with the aim of making charitable contributions to fund treatment of problem gambling.

The Leon House centre in Manchester has been identified as the first preferred recipient.

“Whilst the vast majority of our customers enjoy our products responsibly, it is high time that the industry did more to protect its customers from potential harm,” said GVC CEO Kenny Alexander.

“The industry should and can do more to protect the vulnerable, and today’s announcement demonstrates GVC’s commitment to delivering on that.”

Something is certainly better than nothing but it would be interesting to get a sense of what Ladbrokes and Coral might be doing in the digital space and how they will treat their marketing in other jurisdictions, including here.

Rob Hartnett from Sport for Business and Declan Lynch from Independent news and Media were interviewed on this subject by Matt Cooper on Today FM on Thursday Evening.  Playback is available on the Today FM Website at 1:13:30.

 


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