Derek Webb, Campaign for Fairer Gambling founder, continues his analysis of the DCMS review of Gambling Machines and Social Responsibility Measures.
The old Triennial Review of Gaming Machine Stakes and Prizes was justified as a tool to address the effect of inflation. This has now been subsumed into the “Review of Gambling Machines and Social Responsibility Measures – Call to Evidence”.
Whilst there was a review of advertising in 2014 this was essentially just an industry, gambling and advertising regulator box-ticking exercise. The Government wanted to ensure that remote operators based offshore paid a point -of-consumption tax (PoC). The tool used to enable this was the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014. This required sites advertising in the UK to be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, even if they were based in Gibraltar for example.
Even though the PoC has now been implemented, the bookmakers are still objecting with the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association calling for its members to be exempt from the tax. They are even going through the Courts to try and overturn the UK Government’s decision. The bookmaker CEOs don’t want to pay tax where they make their profits. They want to profit from gambling harm, pay no tax, but still manage to keep a straight face when they claim to be socially responsible.
Research has shown that one in five CEOs is a psychopath, higher than in the prison population. It is more likely that these people, lacking in empathy for others, are attracted to sectors that engage in immoral and unethical behavior.
Remote gambling sites are unable to find enough new vulnerable victims through remote marketing and so resort to excessive and often unethical TV marketing. Originally affiliates were the major director of traffic to sites. These affiliates got a share of the revenue for introducing losing punters, even though the punter was not informed of that relationship.
Affiliates will recommend remote gambling operators based on the depth of the commercial relationship between them and the site. One of the 2005 Gambling Act licensing objectives is that gambling should be “fair and open”. Affiliate relationships are a serious blemish on that objective.
Bingo got a pre-watershed pass as it was perceived as soft gambling, based on the traditional perception of bricks-and-mortar bingo. However, bingo sites also have casino sites just a click away. So, daytime bingo advertising is used to drive sales in selected casino sites, to the disadvantage of casino sites that do not have an associated bingo site.
Football betting advertising also gets a pass when live football is broadcast pre-watershed. This has the added impact of encouraging gamblers who do not have access to remote accounts to go to betting shops instead and as a result, the new young football bettors are spotted by shop staff and steered towards FOBTs. “Would you like me to show you how to play?” Credits, bonus and tournaments are also all extra tools to get FOBTs sold to novice gamblers, all enabled through football betting advertising on TV.
Remember that these offshore sites have got away with using their tax advantage to market their land based betting shop gambling.
The other main sport for TV advertising is horseracing. Why should the sport of kings be subsidised by losing gamblers though? TV racing broadcasts already include the odds for races and the inane comments of the bookies’ cheerleaders. That alone is all bad enough, particularly when gamblers who are capable of winning are getting their accounts closed and/or bets restricted.
Commercial TV companies, who are always lobbying against the BBC, will be upset with any restrictions on TV advertising. However, DCMS should be more concerned with protecting the BBC than protecting the commercial interest of those who benefit from marketing addictive and potentially harmful gambling.
The 2005 Gambling Act swung the pendulum too far in favour of gambling operators. The backlash against this has been slow to build, but it is now one that Theresa May and her Government know they can no longer ignore.
Read more – https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/culture/opinion/campaign-fairer-gambling/81050/reviewing-gambling-review-part-four