As part of new strategy to tackle problem gambling, health bodies, charities, regulators and businesses are being brought together to find a solution.
The Gambling Commission says under its new three-year strategy, gambling-related harm will be cut down “much faster”, focusing on prevention, education and treatment and support for problem gamblers. But how has the betting industry responded to this? Casino Market explores.
How has the betting industry responded?
Even before this announcement, two giants in the UK betting industry have said they would change the way they advertise as part of their efforts to tackle the problem.
GVC, the company who own Ladbrokes, Coral and Gala, and William Hill have said that they will stop football shirt sponsorship, and GVC is also bringing an end to their perimeter adverts.
GVC has also calls for an end to all sports-betting broadcast advertising in the UK, on live or repeated sporting events, at any time of the day. However, horse racing is the exception to this proposed ban on TV advertising, as betting within horse racing is seen as critical to the betting industry’s profitability.
This new strategy come off the back of increasing pressure from governments and regulators to make betting companies take responsibility for problem gambling and help to curb the nationwide problem.
After a warning from the Gambling Commission, both Paddy Power and Betfred pulled new high stakes roulette casino games. Companies have been forced by the government to lower the maximum stake on their fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2, squeezing gambling profits. And, last year William Hill was handed a £6.2m penalty package, after they breached anti-money-laundering and social responsibility regulations.
Gambling – a ‘serious health issue’
The NHS has highlighted the increasing evidence of a link between problem gambling and stress, depression and other mental health issues. According to an estimation by the Gambling Commission, around 430,000 people are experiencing problems with gambling.
Marc Etches is the head of the GambleAware, a charity that has contributed to the Gambling Commission’s National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. He said: “Gambling is a serious public health issue in Britain with two million adults suffering some level of gambling-related harm, and for a few, gambling addiction ends in suicide.
“Commitments by some in the gambling industry to reduce advertising and to increase funding for research and the prevention and treatment gambling addiction are welcome but there is much more that can and should be done across the industry as a whole.”
The new strategy largely focuses on gathering information and research on the effects of gambling. The Commission has already started building a national database and is currently considering setting up a National Research Centre.
William Moyes, chairman of the Gambling Commission, said: “We all need to better understand the harms that can be caused by gambling, moving away from simply counting problem gamblers and instead build a greater understanding of the harms experienced.”
Rosanna O’Connor, director of alcohol, drugs, tobacco and justice at Public Health England, said: “There is an urgent need to develop a better understanding of these harms and how best to respond to them.”