UK online casino and bookmaker adverts ‘need smoking-style warnings’ | Advertising

Advertisements for online bookmakers and casinos should include warnings about smoking style, the UK’s leading gambling charity has said, warning that increased marketing during the Euro 2024 football tournament could make make it more difficult for people to reduce consumption or quit smoking.

GambleAware called for an end to the industry-approved “Take time to think” slogan that appears in gambling ads, labeling the message “inappropriate.”

Instead, the charity has drawn up its own guidelines driven by research suggesting that wall-to-wall betting adverts, which typically increase significantly during major football tournaments, make it difficult for people with gambling problems. harder to stop doing it.

GambleAware is funded by industry donations and has faced scrutiny over concerns that the source of its funding could affect its independence. However, its call to remove the “Take time to think” message could now put the charity on a collision course with industry operators, who crafted the slogan through their lobby group, Betting & Gaming. Council (BGC).

The message replaced “When the fun stops, stop,” which was also widely criticized. The BGC defended its “Take time to think” motto, saying it had been launched after consulting with the government and academics to find the “most effective way to encourage responsible gambling”.

But GambleAware now wants industry ads to include its own new set of “clear” health warnings, with slogans like “Gambling can be addictive” and “Gambling comes at a cost.”

Of those who have a gambling problem, more than half say that watching ads makes it difficult for them to stop, according to a YouGov survey for GambleAware. A similar number (55%) said they felt unable to escape gambling ads.

“We know that gambling advertising can contribute to the normalization of gambling as just ‘harmless fun,'” said Alexia Clifford, communications director at GambleAware. “We want to see stricter restrictions on gambling advertising to protect people from harm.

“We hope that the health warnings and clear signs set out in these new guidelines will ensure that people are clear about the risks of gambling and where to go for help and support if they need it.”

Industry donations to GambleAware, which reached £50m last year, are technically voluntary, although the system is well established and has so far allowed operators to avoid being forced to pay a mandatory tax.

The Conservative government announced plans to replace the voluntary system with a statutory tax to raise more funds for research, education and treatment, as part of a white paper on gambling reform published last year.

However, the unfinished proposal was left up in the air by Rishi Sunak’s decision to call a summer election. The Labor Party has not said whether it would push through the tax plan if it wins the general election.

The BGC said: “The ‘Take Time to Think’ campaign was launched after extensive customer research, as well as engagement with academics, governments, operators and stakeholders, including GambleAware, on the most effective way to encourage responsible betting.

“The white paper committed to reviewing customer messages, including those provided by industry, and we look forward to engaging in that work with whoever forms the next government.”

This article was modified on June 10, 2024. A previous version incorrectly stated that GambleAware had been consulted about the “Take Time to Think” initiative.

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