Lithuania’s legislature, the Seimas, has passed a bill that will require all gambling advertisements to include a warning about gambling-related harm from 1 July.
The bill is an amendment to Article 10 of the country’s gambling laws and was proposed by Mykolas Majauskas of the Homeland Union Lithuanian Christian Democratic Party. The bill was passed by consensus after no objectoins were raised at its first reading.
“Gambling is not an evil in itself, but as the sector develops, it is important to be able to control the risks involved and minimise the negative consequences,” Majauskas said. “There is no need to jam poles into the spokes of the gaming market's wheels in a way that would pull it off the road, but at least you need to attach reflectors.”
Lithuania’s gambling regulator, the Lošimų Priežiūros Tarnyba (Gambling Authority), shall determine the content that must be displayed in the warning.
“By law, we would oblige the Gambling Authority to set clear rules and to make notes that would change every time,” Majauskas said. “And we also expect a responsible and sensible approach to how these rules should be applied. That is, they would not apply, for example, to gambling branding on basketball players' uniforms.”
Majauskas said the bill would allow Lithuania to follow the example set by many other EU countries.
“Other countries in the European Union have very similar problems, they say: first, we need to educate; secondly, we must help those who have problems; third, we need to help people who have loved ones who have gambling problems,” he explained. “One of the basic tools for solving problems is public education, education through social advertising.
“A large number of countries in the European Union ensure that organisations that promote their trademarks […] are accompanied by very simple inscriptions: ‘Do not give up your life to gambling’, ‘You can lose your family as well as your money’.”
Majauskas added that he hoped the slogan chosen would be changed periodically, in order to stop viewers of advertisements from becoming too used to any one slogan and it losing its effect.
In its announcement of the passing of the bill, the Seimas noted that 510 Lithuanians signed up for the Gambling Authority’s self-exclusion scheme in December 2019 alone, more than the yearly average since the scheme started in 2007.