UK gambling operators suspend advertisements

These are truly unprecedented times, with the coronavirus having caused havoc across the world. There are lockdown measures in place in multiple countries all across the globe, and it seems as if this situation will persist for some time to come, as governments struggle to slow down the spread of the virus. With most people being forced to stay inside their homes, there is a lot of free time available for various pastimes and hobbies. While there are many ways to stay occupied, some are better than others.

During this time, there has been a rise in the number of people using online gambling services. A combination of boredom and the inability to go to a physical casino are the biggest reasons for this, and most casino online games have seen a surge in popularity over the last couple of months. However, keeping in mind the state of the country as well as the greater tendency for people to cause harm to themselves during this time, the UK’s Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) voluntarily decided to halt TV and radio advertising as long as the lockdown goes on. These operators, which include the largest British gambling providers such as Bet365, William Hill, Sky Bet, Flutter Entertainment and GVC Holdings, will implement this policy as soon as possible, and not later than 7th May. This will then be in place till 5th June at least, with a review being done at that time based on the state of the lockdown.

Advertising slots which have already been paid for will either be removed where the contract allows it, or be replaced by safer gambling messages. That is the core issue behind this decision, as the UK government also warned operators to try and protect online gamblers during this time. This announcement is all the more laudable for the fact that it has come during a time when gambling revenues have taken a major hit due to the lack of live sports, as well as the shutdown of all retail betting and gambling venues to comply with the lockdown. Firms are estimated to have lost up to 60% of their overall revenue since March, with a 30% drop in online gambling revenue. This ties in with the results of a survey made recently, which showed that the vast majority of respondents had reduced their gambling activity during the lockdown, even though quite a few had actually increased it.

There have been quite a few responsible gambling campaigns since the shutdown began, in order to try and reduce incidences of problem gambling and provide help to those who are battling gambling addictions. One of the most high-profile of these sees former England football captain Wayne Rooney spearhead 32Red’s responsible gambling video. Rooney, who plays for EFL Championship side Derby County at the moment, asks viewers to gamble responsibly, set limits on their play, not chase losses, and step away if gambling is not fun anymore. Incidentally, 32Red are the main shirt sponsors of Derby County, and Rooney took the #32 shirt number when he joined the club in January, as a promotional tool for the company. Nevertheless, it has been acknowledged that licensed gambling companies have a big role to play in working with the problem of gambling addiction, and with the current lockdown, there are fears that these issues could get exacerbated due to isolation and boredom.

It is here that gambling companies need to be responsible and have a sense of care towards their customers, and with these initiatives, it can be hoped that they can provide an impact against problem gambling and gambling addictions.

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