To be able to act accordingly and regulate the gambling industry in the UK, gambling regulators rely on various studies conducted to reveal the gambling behaviour of society. A recent report showed that over 420,000 British players and bettors lost a minimum of £2,000 a year. According to the report, the most addictive gambling products were mainly provided in deprived areas.
Last week, the former professional footballer, Michael Owen, was criticised for a couple of his tweets that were not in line with the UK gambling advertising laws. In one of his latest tweets, Owen was promoting a virtual casino that was not licensed to operate in the UK. This was in breach of the law claiming that only licensed gambling operators can be promoted to UK consumers. Unfortunately, this was not the first controversial tweet as Owen was also instructed to delete another tweet promoting non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Deprived Areas in the UK Mainly Exposed to Most Addicting Gambling Products
A recent report revealed concerning trends about heavy losses among serious gamblers and minimum preventative actions taken by gambling companies. The results from the report prompted new calls for stringent affordability checks and bet limits on slot machines to be introduced in the gambling regulations review.
Online gaming was the main concern of researchers representing the National Centre for Social Research (NatGen) as well as the University of Liverpool. The online gambling sector is estimated to generate about £4 billion a year. While online casinos and bingo sites are also included in online gambling, virtual slots are the most dominant category in the sector.
Based on an analysis of 140,000 customer accounts across seven different gambling businesses, it was revealed that some 129,000 customers lost at least £2,000 per year. This amount exceeds the average spending on gas and electricity bills. The actual numbers of people experiencing such high losses are probably much higher as the report covers only 37.5% of the online gambling sector in the UK.
The gambling product that raised the biggest concern was virtual slots, with 50,000 people admitting to having played virtual slots for a time equivalent of eight full days in just one year. The reported losses these individuals have experienced were estimated to be £5,000 on average.
According to data, the most online gambling losses came from the most deprived areas. The report showed that 20% of the poorest regions in the UK brought 25% of the industry’s revenue. Labour MP Carolyn Harris commented on these findings by blaming the gambling industry for making a profit by taking money from those who can least afford it. Harris also noted that with the current crisis concerning the cost of living, the government should be more adamant about protecting vulnerable individuals.
Michael Owen Breaks UK Gambling Advertising Laws by Promoting Unlicensed Casino
The former professional football player, Michael Owen, breached the UK laws on gambling advertising by promoting an unlicensed crypto casino on his Twitter account. Moreover, Owen was also warned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the promotion of a controversial NFT. The former footballer was instructed to delete the said post as it was in breach of the laws on promoting cryptocurrency products.
The promotional tweets in question were posted by Owen on May 16, advertising “Punt Casino”. The crypto casino operator is registered in Curacao but holds no licence to operate in the UK. Following enquiries made by The Athletic, the tweets were deleted while the access to Punt Casino was blocked for players based in the UK.
A spokesperson explained that Punt Casino was registered in Curacao and fully licensed by the respective authorities on the Caribbean island. The operator had no intentions of advertising its website to customers who were based in jurisdictions that do not abide by the licensing terms of the Curacao authorities.
Another instance of Owen not following advertising rules was a tweet promoting NFT. The controversy surrounding the post arose from the words Owen used to promote the tweet, claiming it to be “the first-ever (NFTs) that can’t lose their initial value”. Due to the misleading information in the tweet, ASA instructed Owen to delete the post from his social media platform.