UK's GVC wants betting TV advertising and shirt sponsorship to be banned
The head of GVC Holdings, the UK’s largest gambling group, has called for a total ban on betting advertising during television sports broadcasts and an end to shirt sponsorship deals involving companies from the sector.
The proposals, which go beyond the new regulations being introduced by the UK betting industry itself, are intended to combat gambling addiction.
Kenny Alexander, the chief executive of GVC, which owns prominent betting chain Ladbrokes Coral, wants a round-the-clock ban on gambling adverts in sports broadcasts, with the exception of horse racing.
He said on Thursday: “Whilst the vast majority of our customers enjoy our products responsibly, it is high time that the industry did more to protect its customers from potential harm.
“I call on our industry peers to help us bring about an end to broadcast advertising which promotes sports betting in the UK no matter the time of day.”
Ladbrokes and Coral branding will no longer appear on shirts or on perimeter boards at soccer matches, while rival William Hill has also promised to end shirt sponsorship.
In addition, GVC, which bought the merged Ladbrokes Coral entity in March 2018, has pledged to contribute 1 per cent of gambling revenue into research, treatment projects and education by 2022, up from the current levy of 0.1 per cent.
Ladbrokes title sponsorships include Scottish soccer’s top-tier Premiership and second-tier Championship, while Coral gives its name to English rugby league’s Challenge Cup.
Last December, in response to increasing public and political concerns over the growth in betting advertising in live sports coverage, and in particular its contribution to problem gambling and impact on young people, it was agreed through the Remote Gambling Association, which represents some of the UK’s largest bookmakers, to restrict the level of activity.
From the start of August, under a new 'whistle-to-whistle' ban, there will be no betting advertising from five minutes before an event starts to five minutes after it finishes, including at half-time in soccer matches, for games which start before the watershed of 9pm.
This will apply to all televised sport except horse racing and greyhound racing, which are considered to be reliant on betting, and extends to reruns and highlights shows, plus streaming of televised events on computers and mobile devices.
Sky, the leading UK pay-TV sports broadcaster, had already pledged to restrict gambling advertising on its channels.
Speaking at the Betting on Football conference in London last month, John Hagan, the chair of the UK’s Industry Group for Responsible Gambling, said: “There’s too much advertising at the moment, but this [agreement] will result in a dramatic reduction in the amount, and I believe will change the public perception of gambling advertising in this country for the better.”
He said that a total ban was unnecessary as the self-regulation was “a sensible and proportional response to legitimate public concerns.”
Alexander’s comments came ahead of an announcement by the UK’s Gambling Commission of a three-year national strategy to combat addiction.
The organisation plans to work with health bodies, charities, regulators and businesses to tackle the issue.