Betting giants pledge sports ad bans

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Two UK betting giants have said they will change how they advertise as part of a move to fight problem gambling.

GVC, which owns the Ladbrokes, Coral and Gala brands, and William Hill say they are stopping football shirt sponsorship and perimeter adverts.

From August, the industry will also end advertising during most live sport.

It comes as the Gambling Commission launches its National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms after 10 weeks consultation.

The three-year strategy will coordinate work by health bodies, charities, regulators and businesses to reduce gambling harms.

The Commission estimates that about 430,000 people are experiencing problems with gambling.

However, the betting companies have been coming under increasing pressure from anti-gambling campaigners and the Government to curb problem gambling.

Bookmakers Paddy Power and Betfred both pulled new high stakes roulette-style games after a warning from the Gambling Commission.

Last year William Hill was hit with a £6.2m penalty package for breaching anti-money-laundering and social responsibility regulations.

Meanwhile profits have been squeezed as the government forced gambling companies to lower the maximum stake that can be played on their highly lucrative fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) from £100 to £2.

Charitable pledge

GVC has pledged to increase investment in its research, education and treatment programmes to 1% of its UK gross gambling revenue over the next three years an to boost its charitable contributions to fund treatment of problem gambling.

William Hill launched its “Nobody Harmed” programme to help prevent problem gambling and appointed a group director of strategy & sustainability, Lyndsay Wright, to lead it.

Philip Bowcock, chief executive of William Hill, wrote in the Daily Telegraph that switching off customers from its gambling systems for safer gambling reasons had cost it an estimated £17m.

He wrote that he believed the company should continue to tackle problem gambling: “If that means taking some short-term commercial hits, so be it. Our future relies on customers who enjoy gambling and stay gambling with us for the long term – and that is dependent on them being safe.”

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