Friday 1 May 2020

The gambling industry's own goal

In a self-defeating move of epic proportions, the Betting and Gaming Council - which represents 90 per cent of the UK gambling industry - announced this week that its members are pulling all TV and radio advertising for the duration of the lockdown.

This appears to have been a response to nagging from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm, formerly known as the APPG on FOBTs, who have warned about an epidemic of problem gambling as a result of people being stuck at home. There is no evidence that this has occurred. Online gambling revenue has fallen by 30 per cent

When the BGC laid out a set of new measures in late March to ease these tenuous concerns, the APPG demanded much more, saying:

“It will not come as a surprise to you, however, that we do not think that the standards you have proposed go anything like far enough."

It certainly wasn't a surprise. If it wasn't already glaringly obvious, this should have been enough for the industry to realise that they were on a hiding to nothing trying to appease people who want them destroyed.

Sensing weakness, the APPG moved on from its initial demand of a temporary betting cap of £50 a day to a cull on advertising. The industry has now duly obliged. 

A lot of betting advertising is obsolete without live sport, so perhaps the industry thought it could get some positive publicity from pulling the lot. If so, it was being naive. It's open season on gambling in the UK these days and the only journalist who routinely writes about the industry is essentially an activist.

Not only have they made no friends by doing this, the BGC has walked straight into a massive elephant trap by implicitly portraying gambling advertising as harmful, saying:

This is the latest in a series of measures introduced by BGC members to safeguard customers during the COVID-19 crisis.


This latest move by the regulated industry further underlines our commitment to safer betting and gaming


...we recognise that removing product advertising will act as a further safeguard during covid-19.

Having given the anti-gambling lobby this open goal, what else could they APPG but score? Scarcely able to believe its luck, the APPG gave the BGC a sarcastic pat on the back and pressed home its advantage and demanded yet more.

The APPG asks, not unreasonably, why the industry is planning on bringing its advertising back if it knows that it is dangerous? (Click to enlarge.)

Other anti-gambling fanatics joined in...

One step at a time, indeed.

When will these people learn to stop negotiating with terrorists?

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