UK Government unveils plans for a two-year responsible gambling advertising campaign

The UK government has unveiled its plans for a two-year responsible gambling advertising campaign that will cost between £10m-£14m to be paid for by gambling operators.

House of Parliament at sunset

The report is a triennial review into the industry. © Wikipedia.

The plans were released as part of the government’s highly anticipated review of the gambling industry in the UK which focused largely on the regulation of fixed-odds betting machines (FOBTs) in bookmakers’ physical stores.

The plans call for industry regulatory bodies, including responsible gambling charity GambleAware and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), to work together to form the basis for the campaign. The multi-media campaign will consist of TV adverts, along with radio, cinema, online and print advertisements. The report states that the aim of the campaign is to raise public awareness of gambling’s risks, along with showing viewers where advice and support can be sought.

The campaign is to be funded by both on and offline operators, while broadcasters will provide airtime for the advertisements. GambleAware will take the lead and ensure that the content is independently approved.

Authored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), the report was eagerly awaited on by operators, regulators, and political parties.

Expected news for operators

Back in September, a number of betting firms, along with advertisers and broadcasters, made a formal offer to government to fund such an advertising campaign. Industry groups had prior access to the findings of the report and reacted by making an offer of their own to run a responsible gambling campaign.

The government’s plan is more expensive than the £8m originally envisaged in September, though operators were quick to point out at the time that the offer highlighted how serious they were in tackling problem gambling, along with educating and raising awareness.

Not all feel the same however. Critics of the offer claimed that the move was a ploy to appear socially responsible while avoiding tighter restrictions and regulation.

Deputy leader of the Labour party, Tom Watson, has been one particularly vocal critic of the actions and behaviour of gambling operators in recent months. The deputy leader has called for a ban of firms sponsoring football teams’ shirts and for bookmakers to fund a levy to help treat those with a gambling addiction.

Watson himself expressed disappointment at both the lack of action from government and the findings of the review which he felt has let bookmakers off the hook. While the review has called for this advertising campaign, it stopped short of imposing new advertising restrictions on the industry.

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