UK Labour Party Leader to Ban Gambling Ads During British Sporting Events If Elected

Posted on: September 22, 2018, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: September 21, 2018, 02:34h.

Expect sweeping changes to Britain’s gambling laws if the Labour Party winds up winning power in an upcoming election.

Labour Party leader Tom Watson promises a “whistle to whistle” band on gambling advertising during live sporting events. (Image: Reuters/Toby Melville)

The biggest switch would be seen over the airwaves, as the party is promising that it will ban gambling ads from airing during all live sporting events.

Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson slammed the current state of gambling laws in the country this week, saying that they’ve helped to create a “public health emergency.” Watson alleges that the current Conservative government has let down the estimated 430,000 problem gamblers in the UK, and he unveiled a list of proposed policies to address the issue.

The Party would introduce a 1 percent tax on gaming companies which would go towards treating addicts. Currently, operators pay a 0.1 percent “voluntary” fee towards problem gambling treatment.

Other plans include a blanket ban on the use of credit cards on gambling sites. Such a move could have potentially devastating effects on the industry: a report by the Gambling Commission suggests that 20 percent of deposits come from credit cards.

SkyBet CEO Richard Flint welcomes the idea of a higher levy, but says a credit card ban wouldn’t do much good.

Our data on credit cards suggests that it is those customers with multiple cards that are at greater risk of harm,” Flint told BBC News. “So we believe attention should be placed on that rather than a complete ban.”

New rules would also allow problem gamblers to instruct their banks to ban any of their own transactions related to gambling. The Party would also introduce new clinical measures to help treat those considered problem gamblers.

But the measure that is making the most headlines is a “whistle to whistle” prohibition on gambling advertising during sporting events.

Advertising Overload

That particular issue reached a zenith during this year’s World Cup tournament. The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 115 complaints over the number and nature of gambling ads shown during the matches.

One study revealed that there were more than 90 minutes of gaming advertising shown during the World Cup, more air time than ads for alcohol, mobile phones, and computers combined.

It wasn’t just the sheer numbers which drew unwanted attention, though. There were also complaints that commercials promoting live, in-game bets breached regulations which banned ads that created an “inappropriate sense of urgency.”

It’s a trend that is predicted to grow stateside as well. In the weeks following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a federal ban on sports betting, industry analysts suggest that sports betting companies will spend up to $10 billion on advertising by 2025. 

What Are the Odds?

Ironically enough, you can place a bet on whether or not the Labour Party will win the election and get the chance to make good on their promises to crack down on the gambling industry.

Right now, it’s a dead heat. SkyBet and Ladbrokes are offering even-money, 1/1 odds on both the Conservative and Labour Parties to win the next general election in the UK. But any potential changes are still years away, as the next election isn’t scheduled to be held until May of 2022.