Last week, there were new talks about the reforms in the 2005 Gambling Act in the UK, following a report showing the possible effects of introducing harsh measures to prevent gambling harm. Meanwhile, a member of parliament asked the broadcasting network ITV to stop promoting gambling during the European championship league.
The UK Gambling Commission also updated the data on the impact of lockdown measures on the gambling industry in the UK. The latest data released by the regulatory body covers the period between March 2020 and April 2021 and reflects the impact of the lockdown period on both land-based and online gambling operators.
ITV Asked to Stop Advertising Gambling During Euro 2020 Broadcasts
Ronnie Cowan, a member of Parliament, announced that the gambling industry should change and advised companies to shift their focus to tolerating gambling rather than promoting it. Cowan expressed his support of campaigns calling for actions that would prevent gambling-related harms.
Statistics show that every year, there are about 650 suicides related to gambling in the UK. Meanwhile, over one million people in the country are struggling with some form of gambling disorder. During the 2018 World Cup, the amount that was wagered on football matches was estimated to be about £2.3 billion. This exceeded the 2014 World Cup betting amount more than twice. While the World Cup 2018 tournaments were broadcasted, ITV alone was responsible for 172 gambling-related ads.
Cowan noted that the European Championships should be an event celebrating football rather than viewers being constantly exposed to gambling-related advertisements during every game. He believes that such advertisements would cause further harm, exposing more vulnerable viewers to gambling.
The MP backed the ban of gambling ads on ITV during the broadcasting of Euro 2020 in June. He noted that such advertisements could already be seen surrounding the playing area and anywhere else. With constant exposure, gambling is becoming more common and its normalisation among children and other individuals is becoming more serious.
To comply with the “whistle to whistle” ban, ITV announced that most of the Euro 2020 matches it will broadcast will have no gambling ads. In addition to that, the broadcasting network announced that its gambling-related advertising during the European Championships will be reduced quite a lot compared to the number of gambling ads during the 2018 World Cup.
Report Shows the Cost of Implementing Reforms in the UK Gambling Industry
The summer of 2020 revealed a number of reports on the UK gambling industry, with plenty of reforms being proposed by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gambling Related Harm, the Peers for Gambling Reform, and the Social Markets Foundation (SMF). All of the proposals, however, were rejected by the gambling industry as there were pretty harsh measures like an in-play betting ban, deposit caps, and other controversial proposals. Recently, a new report showed what the real cost of implementing strict measures during the gambling industry reform could be.
The new report was conducted by Nera Economic Consulting and showed that measures like betting limits, the ban on gambling advertising, and affordability checks would cause the gambling industry a loss of between £696 million and £974 million a year.
The estimated yearly loss surpasses the reported overall profit of £697 million but the chair of Peers for Gambling Reform, Lord Foster, argued that this profit estimate does not cover the entire gambling industry in the UK. According to him, the reported estimates were based only on the profit from operators like Entain, Bet365, William Hill, Flutter and Camelot Group. This would mean that the real estimates for the entire gambling industry in the UK should be much higher.
Lord Forster believes that although the proposed reforms will affect the income of gambling companies, they will still be able to make a profit. According to the report, introducing the reforms will help reduce the gambling harm by lowering the participation rate in the UK. This would also cause changes in other entertainment sectors and the entire economy of the country. The report shows that reducing gambling activity can actually create new jobs, with potential employee earnings reaching £400 million.
In the meantime, the UK Gambling Commission published new data on the impact of the lockdown measures on the gambling industry in the UK. The updated data covers the period between March 2020 and April 2021, with the recent reopening of land-based gambling facilities bringing some changes to the gambling scene.
According to the newly published data, there was a 4% increase in the number of active accounts during March. There was also a 3% surge in gross gambling yield (GGY), with all estimates showing an increase in the gambling sector in the past few months. This being said, there was still a 2% decline in bets even though there was no significant change in the GGY generated from slots, maintaining £202 million for the period between March 2020 and April 2021.
There was also a 1% decrease in the number of active players and bets and the duration of an average gaming session dropped by almost 8% to 20.2 minutes. According to the data published by the UK Gambling Commission, there was also a decrease in the number of online slots sessions that lasted longer than an hour, dropping down by 4% to 2.6 million.
Even though the easing of the restrictions had begun, the regulator announced that it will continue to monitor the effect of the pandemic on the gambling industry in the UK.