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Gambling firms to pause advertising during lockdown

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The UK’s largest betting and gaming operators have announced they will voluntarily remove TV and radio advertising during the coronavirus lockdown.

Members of The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) which represents 90% of the industry, said the adverts will be removed as part of their commitment for safer gambling, and in spite of a 60% drop in revenue.

It said existing TV and radio advertising slots will be replaced with safer gambling messages, donated to charities or removed from broadcast where contracts allow.

The change will be implemented as soon as possible but no later than Thursday 7 May where it will remain in force for six weeks, and at a minimum until 5 June. It will only be reviewed when lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

BGC members currently account for around 50% of all gambling advertising on TV and radio and it hopes that the remaining major operators such as the National Lottery, society lotteries and bingo operators will follow suit.

Chief executive of the BGC, Michael Dugher, said: “From day one of this crisis we have sought to protect customers potentially at risk, including announcing stepping up safer gambling measures as part of our 10 pledges from the best betting apps for Covid-19 in March. The latest move by the regulated industry further underlines our commitment to safer betting and gaming with many people cut off and feeling anxious.

“We have been working closely with our member companies since the crisis began to monitor the impact of betting and gaming. There hasn’t been an explosion in people betting online as some had predicted – in fact, the opposite is true with total revenue down 60%. Overall gambling levels have also fallen significantly as a result of betting shops and casinos closing and the suspension of live sport. While advertising levels on sports and casinos are also down, we recognise that removing product advertising will act as a further safeguard during Covid-19.

“We are determined to do everything we can to protect customers potentially at risk during this lockdown period and beyond – and we are determined to drive the high standards that the public expect from us. I hope others follow our lead.”

Last month in a covid-19 trading update and outlook for the year ahead, 888 said it will need to monitor and prevent gambling-related harm as people spend more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. It added that stress from coronavirus lockdown ‘could lead to problem gambling’.

And just a couple of weeks ago, gamblers in the UK were banned from using credit cards in a bid to protect hundreds of thousands of people from gambling money they don’t have.

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