The gambling industry in the UK is continuing to change, with the ongoing review of the 2005 Gambling Act bringing newer regulations to prevent gambling-related harm. As a way to protect vulnerable individuals, a group of people battling gambling addiction asked broadcasting companies to suspend betting advertisements while the European Championship is broadcasted.
In the meantime, Stakers ceased its operation in the UK after it surrendered its licence. The operator’s decision followed the dismissal of its appeal against the suspension of its UK licence. Last year, the UK Gambling Commission decided to review Stakers’ license as there were several operational failings, compromising the company’s eligibility to operate in the UK.
Broadcasting Companies Asked to Suspend Betting Advertising During the European Championship
Last week, broadcasting companies like BT Sport, ITV, Sky Sports, and Talksport were asked to refrain from gambling advertisements during the European Championship. About 60 individuals with gambling issues as well as MPs and clinicians addressed an open letter to the broadcasting companies, asking them to protect vulnerable viewers by suspending such advertisements.
According to the addressers of the letter, there was evidence showing that gambling advertisements have a strong impact on people’s decision to bet. It was reported that during the 2018 World Cup, ITV broadcasted a total of 172 gambling advertisements, amounting to 17% of the company’s overall number of advertisements during that period.
This year, ITV promised that there will be significantly fewer gambling advertisements during the European Championship. BT Sport also ensured that they will cut down on the betting advertisements as they will not be broadcasting any live matches.
This year, the European Championships will be broadcasted in the UK by BBC and ITV, while BBC Radio 5 Live and Talksport will cover Euro 2020 matches on the radio. The open letter asking for suspension on gambling advertisements came after reports on increased gambling sponsorships with broadcasting companies during the upcoming summer season.
According to the letter, banning gambling advertisements will not affect punters’ desire to bet but it will help prevent gambling-related harm to vulnerable individuals. As there is a voluntary sponsorship ban for football matches broadcasted on TV before 9 pm, ITV announced that most of the Euro 2020 matches it will broadcast will follow this rule and have no gambling advertisements.
Currently, the ban on gambling sponsorships in sports is also a part of the discussions surrounding the review of the 2005 Gambling Act. Whether such sponsorships will be completely banned, however, will become clear this autumn.
Stakers Gives Up UK Gaming License After Appeal Against Suspension is Dismissed
After last month Stakers’ appeal against the suspension of its UK licence was dismissed, the operator surrendered its licence and stopped offering its services in the UK market. In March 2020, the UK Gambling Commission announced it will review the operation of Stakers as there were speculations about some operational failings.
While the review was ongoing, Stakers’ licence was suspended as there were several compliance failings. The review of the operators was carried out under Section 116(2)(a) of the Gambling Act, allowing the Commission to inspect a company if it has suspicions about its operations.
According to Richard Williams, Stakers’ representative, the operator decided to give up its UK licence and cease its operation in the jurisdiction. This was a preventive measure as the company preferred to surrender its licence rather than having to pay a penalty after the Commission’s review ends.
While Stakers appealed against the suspension of its licence during the ongoing review, the initial request was dismissed by the Tribunal. By the time of the appeal’s hearing, the operator decided to stop offering its services in the UK and surrendered its licence from the UK regulatory body.
Williams reported that the appeal covered a wide range of regulatory issues such as whether the operator could be required to take part in compliance assessments over Skype and whether the participants should be warned under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) before the scheduled compliance assessment.
According to Williams, it took 12 months from the initial suspension of the Stakers’ licence and six months from the final hearing for the Tribunal to make its final decision. The operator, however, decided not to wait any longer and surrendered its UK licence.