RGA chief: Gambling ad spend increases are not creating problems

The chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association has refuted the idea that increased TV advertising from operators in the UK is a problem.

This comes after the Guardian published figures that £465m was spent by operators of sports betting, bingo, online casino games and poker on TV ads between the start of 2012 and the end of 2015, according to research carried out for the Guardian by media analysts Nielsen.

The annual total increased every year from £81.2m for 2012 to £118.5m for 2015.

Derek Webb, the inventor of three card poker who part funds the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, was quoted by the Guardian as saying: “There are a lot of problems with this and we’re nowhere close to understanding it all.

“They [gambling firms] need to keep acquiring new players because the nature of it is that they [customers] go broke, or lose whatever they can afford and decide not to play anymore.”

“Bingo can advertise before the watershed but that bingo site might also own a casino site. Once you’re on the bingo site, you might be induced to click through to something else and then you’re on the slot machines all of a sudden.

“The money that’s being saved on tax is spent on advertising. The government is at fault for allowing this.”

Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive of the RGA, has responded with this statement to Gambling Insider: “It is of course right that we should always be mindful of any potentially negative effects that might be associated with the advertising of gambling, but there is no proof that the increased level of advertising is leading to an increase in problems. This is apparent from the official government figures which show that problem gambling levels now are almost identical to what they were before the new advertising freedoms came into force in 2007.

“We should also be mindful of the fact that the DCMS-commissioned reviews of gambling advertising only concluded last year. As a result, some improvements were made to the industry code but the vast majority of the regulation is overseen by the Advertising Standards Authority and in the light of their review and all of the available evidence DCMS decided that no major reforms were necessary.

“We believe that the government made the correct decision, but given the political sensitivities around gambling advertising it is a situation that we must continue to monitor closely.”

The last available research from Ofcom showed that the number of gambling ad spots on television grew from 152,000 in 2006 to 1.39 million in 2012, coinciding with the implementation of the 2005 Gambling Act, allowing for TV ads beyond the previously allowed National Lottery, bingo and football pools ads.

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