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Volume 7 No. 149
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Gambling Firms Agree To 'Whistle-To-Whistle' TV Ad Ban

The gambling ban does not apply to the jersey sponsorships that abound in the Premier League.
Photo: getty images

Britain's biggest gambling companies voluntarily agreed to a "whistle-to-whistle" TV advertising ban, according to Richard Conway of the BBC. The Remote Gambling Association, which includes Bet365, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power, "struck a deal to stop adverts during live sports broadcasts." It "follows political pressure" about the amount of betting advertising on TV. The deal follows "extensive talks between firms" -- also including SkyBet, Betfred, Betfair, Stan James, Gala Coral and William Hill -- to ensure no adverts will be broadcast for a defined period before and after a game is broadcast. The proposal is similar to those made by the Labour party and, "importantly, will include any game that starts prior to the 9pm watershed but ends after that time." Horseracing will be exempt from the restrictions -- "given the commercial importance of gambling on its viability" -- but all other sports will be included. However, it is football "where the ban will be felt the most," especially "given the financial value of the sport to both the gambling companies and broadcasters." Nearly 60% of clubs in England's top two divisions have gambling companies as shirt sponsors. Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright MP said, "Gambling firms banning advertising on TV during live sport is a welcome move and I am pleased that the sector is stepping up and responding to public concerns" (BBC, 12/6). In London, Davies & Sweney reported while the proposals have yet to be approved, "they are likely to be rubber-stamped" at a meeting of the five major gambling industry associations next week, with a view to implementing the ban within six months. A senior gambling industry figure said that he would be "surprised and disappointed" if the measures were not agreed upon and added that while not every online betting firm would support them, "all were likely to comply." He said, "It would be a very brave company that would stick its head above the parapet in isolation" (GUARDIAN, 12/6).

BOOMING INDUSTRY: In London, Tom Morgan reported the "booming" football gambling industry is worth £1.4B ($1.8B) to the industry in the U.K. The Gambling Commission said that bookmakers made £333.4M in profits from bets placed on the sport in Britain between Oct. '15 and Sept. '16. The new broadcasting agreement is said to "ensure no adverts will be broadcast for a defined period before and after a game is broadcast," and will include any game that starts prior to the 9pm watershed (TELEGRAPH, 12/6). In London, Camilla Hodgson reported shares in gambling companies fell on Thursday in response, with William Hill, Ladbrokes-Coral owner GVC and 888 Holdings all down 3%. GVC pointed out it had "previously called for a ban on TV gambling adverts" for live football matches before the 9pm watershed. Betfred said, "We included in our last consultation to the government back in January that we supported changes to TV advertising especially around football. The proposals are a step in the right direction" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 12/6).

COMMENTARY

The London TELEGRAPH's Oliver Brown writes, "Football has encouraged problem gambling too long -- advertising ban should be just the start."

The London GUARDIAN's Greg Wood suggests, "Ban on TV betting ads during other live sports can be a boost to racing."

The London INDEPENDENT's James Moore points out, "It has already been noted that the deal does not include either shirt sponsorship nor digital advertising around the pitch."