Centre for Social Justice report calls for gambling ad ban

| By Marese O'Hagan
A report from the Centre of Social Justice (CSJ) has called for more effective protection against gambling harms in the UK, including a ban on gambling advertising.

The report calls for a complete ban on all gambling marketing and advertising. It states that the ban should have no effect on the gambling industry, since domestic operators claim that advertising has no effect on gambling habits.

“The evidence shows the negative impact of gambling advertising on individuals, with increased spending, greater likelihood of betting, and normalisation of gambling,” states the report.

“Given that the point of advertising is to encourage people to gamble, there is a clear case for ending all gambling advertising, marketing and inducements and adopting more stringent restrictions.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling-Related Harm, whose chair and vice-chair Carolyn Harris and Iain Duncan Smith both backed the report, has previously called for such a ban. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan pledged to ban gambling advertising on the London Underground during his re-election bid in May.

The report also states that research into gambling harms is critically low and, as a result, called for a mandatory levy to fund research. It cites the Advisory Board for Safer Gambling, which states that the National Health Institute for Health Research has conducted only one gambling study, in comparison to 15 studies on alcohol research, since 1991.

In March, GambleAware called for a mandatory levy in response to the Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sport’s Gambling Act review.

The report, titled Not a Game, also argues there is a need for gambling affordability checks. The CSJ suggests that the Gambling Commission, in lieu of an appointed third-party ombudsman, acts as a go-between for players and operators to ensure affordability checks are carried out.

“Today, our gambling legislation is hopelessly and dangerously out of date,” Harris said.

“We believe that tackling this issue must involve a whole system approach to reform, from the use of tools already available such as the gambling levy, doing much more in prevention and recovery through to imposing advertising bans.”

The report also specifies a need for new framework for addiction treatment, the implementation of a mandatory gambling levy to fund research into gambling harms and treatment, and the need to address gambling issues in the criminal justice system.

“Gambling is not the safe, harmless leisure activity that the gambling industry would have us believe,” states the report.

“Considering the severity of gambling-related harm, its extent and impact must be accurately identified and assessed. Our research suggests that more must be done for this to happen; from understanding gambling related harm itself to how it affects the families, friends, and communities of disordered gamblers.”

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