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RGA ‘supports thrust’ of Labour Gambling Review

| By iGB Editorial Team
UK’s opposition party calls for ban on in-play ads and credit card betting

The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has said it supports “the thrust” of the UK Labour Party’s Review of Gambling, which has called for a series of new industry regulations, including banning adverts during live sports broadcasts and blocking bets placed via credit cards.

The report, which was co-authored by Labour MPs Tom Watson (pictured) and Jonathan Ashworth MP and can be accessed here, made a number of recommendations to address problem gambling, which directly affects about 430,000 adults across the country, according to the Gambling Commission.

Aside from a “whistle-to-whistle” ban on gambling adverts during live sports coverage, the review also said that “regulators, clubs and national sports associations should commit to limiting gambling advertising on pitch-side advertising” and reiterated the party’s stance that English Premier League football clubs should voluntarily avoid shirt sponsorship deals with betting brands.

“We are ready to enforce this by other means, including legislation, if clubs fail to agree,” the report said.

RGA chief executive Clive Hawkswood, who noted that a recent government review concluded that the evidence did not support further restrictions on advertising, added to iGamingBusiness.com: “We would certainly not be averse to additional advertising restrictions if they are effective in addressing some of the concerns identified in this review.”

However, Sky Betting & Gaming CEO Richard Flint said that a blanket ban on ads could remove “a key incentive for operators to get a UK gambling licence and therefore could leave UK customers more vulnerable to disreputable operators”.

On the recommended ban on credit card betting, Hawkswood highlighted that it is an issue that has already been raised.

“If the evidence and that gathered by the Commission proves the Labour Party’s hypothesis, and it may well do, then we would of course not stand in the way of any necessary reforms,” he said.

A series of other measures were proposed, including the development of NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines for gambling disorder and additional resources, funded by a mandatory levy of 1% on gambling companies to support research and treatment.

Hawkswood added: “We agree with the introduction of a new independent statutory levy system to ensure that the National Responsible Gambling Strategy can be funded sufficiently. This is something that we proposed to the government as part of its own recent review process.

“The Labour Review proposes that the levy should be set at a rate of 1% of gross profits. We are not in a position to say if that is the right level or not, but it is apparent to all that significantly more must be raised than is possible under the voluntary system which is overseen by GambleAware.”

Labour would also limit “online gambling-style games” to over 18s, while local authorities would be given greater powers to prevent clusters of gambling shops on the high street.

Hawkswood described the review as “a welcome addition to the debate”, providing “a measured response to many of the challenges we all face”.

He added: “Although official research shows that the number of children who gamble is in decline and that it predominantly features gambling activity amongst themselves, the Labour Party is right to identify the changing landscape in the digital world and the report’s authors highlight several areas where additional protections should be pursued.

“We hope that these can be taken forward as a matter of urgency.”

Image: Chris McAndrew

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