Wednesday January 21,2015 : U.K. POLITICAL ROW BREWING OVER GAMBLING ADVERTS
Leaked papers show dissension between members of the governing coalition.
In Britain, leaked Cabinet-level correspondence indicating a rift between governing coalition partners the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats on the extent of gambling advertising has been publicised by the Daily Mail newspaper.
In the correspondence, Liberal Democrat and Treasurer Chief Secretary Danny Alexander warns of the danger to young viewers of an "explosion of aggressive advertising during sporting events televised before the 9pm watershed".
It is almost impossible to shield children from these intrusive and frequent advertisements from gambling companies, Alexander complains in a letter to Culture Secretary Sajid Javid.
Alexander adds that a review of gambling advertising being conducted for government ministers ‘has still not reported’. The review is tasked with making recommendations on any changes needed to the industry’s voluntary advertising code, including the suitability of the 9pm watershed arrangements.
The reviewers are also assessing the latest evidence on the link between advertising and gambling addiction, to determine if a broader crackdown is necessary.
‘This is a matter of principle, and I believe the time to act is now,’ the Liberal Democrat minister insists, adding:
"I am growing increasingly concerned by the prevalence of betting advertising during televised sporting events that are watched by children.
"People who want to gamble have every right to do so, but many parents enjoy sitting down with their children to watch a big sports event. I suspect very few now consider what is advertised during the breaks acceptable.’
"It has now become almost impossible to watch any kind of sports event without being bombarded by highly solicitous advertising. The decision by the previous government to allow betting companies to advertise during sports events before the watershed is completely anomalous. It was, of course, part of a grubby deal cooked up by the last Labour government."
In 2007 the previous Labour Party government lifted restrictions on gambling advertising, allowing material to be screened during any programming after a 9pm watershed, and at any time of day during major sporting events.
"As a result of Labour’s reforms, there has been a 1,500 percent increase in gambling commercials, which now make up 4 percent of all advertising," the Mail claims.
"Campaigners say schedules have been flooded with aggressive commercials for bingo, online gambling sites and sports betting which give the impression that children and vulnerable people are being encouraged to see gambling as a fun, everyday activity."
Despite Alexander's complaint, the government's Culture, Media and Sport department is resistant to change, according to the Mail's government sources.
William Hill, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and Coral recently agreed to impose a voluntary ban on TV adverts offering free bets before 9pm.