A Christian advocacy group has welcomed news that the UK’s largest gambling firms will remove all TV and radio advertising for games and products during the coronavirus lockdown.
However, Christian Action Research & Education (CARE) said it hoped the move isn’t ‘too little, too late’.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) said firms have voluntarily agreed to remove all their gaming advertising for at least six weeks.
Pointing out that those with a gambling addiction are more at risk during that lockdown, CARE criticised the betting industry, saying that up until this point there has been little evidence it has taken the issue seriously.
‘While today’s announcement is welcome, let’s hope it is not too little, too late,’ said CARE.
‘It is clear that deregulation of the betting industry must not be allowed to continue. In the interests of protecting people from gambling related harms, the Government must take the initiative to bring the betting industry into line.
‘Whatever the ‘new normal’ for the UK looks like, it must include ongoing protections for those most susceptible to problem gambling.’
The move comes a week after the Government wrote to gambling firms asking them to provide regular updates on how they are tackling problem gambling during the lockdown.
The industry body said existing TV and radio advertising slots will be replaced by safer gambling messages, donated to charities or removed from broadcast where contracts allow.
The BGC, which represents betting shops, online betting and gaming, bingo and casinos, said it has made the move despite a fall in advertising spend and the volume of TV sport and casino adverts falling up to 10 per cent.
It added that all operators will “look to implement this change as rapidly as possible but no later than Thursday 7th May”.
Members of the trade body account for about 50 per cent of all gambling advertising on TV and radio.
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said the gambling industry has “worked very closely with Government” during the pandemic.
He said that total online revenue in the sector has dived 60 per cent during the lockdown, saying “there hasn’t been an explosion in people betting online as some had predicted”.
Picture: A message in the window of the betting shop Paddy Power in Glasgow as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Andrew Milligan/PA).