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Why a Ban on Gambling Advertising in the UK is a Bad Idea

Why a Ban on Gambling Advertising in the UK is a Bad Idea

All eyes have been on the gambling world in the UK this year, with the government performing its generational review of the UK’s 2005 gambling act. Needless to say, as a Brit who works in the gambling industry, I’ve kept a fairly close eye on proceedings. Well, one proposal that has been flirted with has particularly caught my attention.

A Proposal That Shouldn’t Be Ignored

In 2020, a cross-party group of more than 50 MPs called for a total ban on gambling advertisements in the UK. This would be both online, on television as well as in all public places. The idea was raised once again in parliament and it looks like something that will no doubt rear its head again. This is not just something supported by a quiet group of backbenchers either. This same group is the ones who managed to pass the bill banning the use of credit cards in online casinos. 

Personally, the passing of that bill was something I supported. I could see the benefits of this as I believe that it will definitely help solve some gambling-related problems. The ban on all advertising though? That’s something I just can not get behind.

The Opposite Effect

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first. I obviously work in the gambling industry. As such, there is an argument to be made that I could be biased. Of course, there’s no ignoring that. However, there are plenty of other, more important reasons why I think such a ban would actually have a negative impact.

The biggest argument for this ban is that it would help to curb problem gambling. While I think there are certain reasons to think that, I also think the road to hell is paved with good intentions and that banning advertising would actually have the opposite effect. For me, the removal of adverts for licensed and legitimate operators would actually only drive people into the harms of unregulated and potentially illegal casinos and bookmakers.

Currently, as per the United Kingdom’s gambling regulations, only licensed operators are allowed to advertise. This means that the only brands people are getting exposure to are the ones that are reputable and can be trusted. Not only that, all of these brands offer support and have KYC protocols in place to make sure that their customers are protected. They work closely with the government and various gambling charities to ensure that any customer who might have issues can immediately get the support that they need.

If the exposure to such brands disappeared, then I don’t think it is too unfeasible to suggest we may see more people turning towards less reputable brands. Advertising is a great way of ensuring that people stick to recognizable companies that can ensure a safe gambling experience. If you remove that, then telling the difference between these is going to be extremely difficult.

Opinion Piece: Why a Ban on Gambling Advertising in the UK is a Bad Idea

Financial Implications Across Sports

This may be one of the biggest reasons for not pushing such a ban through. But, there could also be some fairly substantial financial implications to implying such a big ban as well.

One thing that is rarely discussed when it comes to betting advertising is the revenue that it helps to generate for English football. All three divisions of the English Football League are sponsored by SkyBet. As a fan of a lower league team, I can’t help but think about the loss of revenue if this sponsorship was removed. This, combined with dwindling gates and the Covid-19 pandemic, could have some serious consequences down the football pyramid.

The English football pyramid is the envy of the footballing world, but times are getting tough outside of the Premier League. Removing advertising, from how I see it, would cut off a serious revenue stream and could leave a lot of clubs in serious danger.

Alternative Solutions

Of course, I do think that clubs could take measures to help promote more responsible gambling. Over the last 12 months, we have seen the power and influence that football players in the UK can have. More campaigns further down the pyramid could surely help spread more positive messages.

The ban of online betting operators on children’s shirts makes a lot of sense. It’s these kinds of ideas that we need to get behind. A total ban on gambling advertising would do nothing but harm to sports in the UK.

While we’re looking at things from a financial perspective, there is no ignoring the taxes and revenue that the gambling industry generates in the country. As well as the country itself making nearly £3 billion off the industry in taxes, many websites and smaller businesses rely on it for sponsorship. I can’t help but think that with the impacts of Brexit still not really being felt, the UK would be taking a huge risk by banning such a lucrative industry.

An Uncertain Future

The country is already seeing many businesses head overseas to find a home in easier markets. I don’t think it would be too much of a surprise if these measures saw gambling companies do the same. That is without accounting for the loss of jobs that the gambling industry brings into the UK.

There are certainly plenty of issues that the gambling industry in the UK needs to address. Even so, the market is already one of the most regulated in the world. Putting a total ban on gambling advertising would be counter-productive, and in the long run, I believe, pretty damaging.

This article delivers the thoughts and opinions of the author, and it doesn't represent the stance of GoodLuckMate.

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