With the Euro 2020 football event around the corner, a conflict has arisen. The social policy group Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) called out ITV for their decision to allow gambling ads during the event.
Care Took an Issue with ITV’s Lack of Action
CARE raised the issue after ITV announced that it will be greatly reducing gambling advertisements without outright banning them. Ads will indeed be limited but that’s because of the gambling industry’s self-imposed “whistle-to-whistle” ban on showing ads before 9pm during live sports competitions and not due to ITV’s efforts.
The ban will not apply after the watershed and periods that extend longer than five minutes before the start or after the final whistle.
CARE’s chief executive officer Nola Leach addressed the issue in a message that was directly sent to ITV’s chairman and chief executive: Sir Peter Bazalgette and Carolyn McCall. She asked them to please rethink their stance and go without gambling ads.
Leach explained that as a leader of an organization that fights to mitigate and prevent harm caused by gambling, she feels disappointed by ITV’s choice to not reduce the ads as promised.
Leach appealed to the ITV representatives’ own sense of justice and asked them to think about their vulnerable viewers. CARE CEO believes that since ITV is a leader in the broadcasting market, it has a moral responsibility to do what’s right and show others the way.
ITV denounced Leach’s claims that the broadcast is oversaturated with gambling ads. The broadcasters pointed out to 2018 as an example – in that year’s World Cup ITV ran 90 minutes of gambling ads – much more than it does today. ITV pointed to the whistle-to-whistle ban as an additional measure against targeting vulnerable audiences.
Global Sports Events Tend to Urge Unhealthy Gambling
2018’s World Cup indeed resulted in a spike of gambling issues as during the tournament GamCare’s helpline received 5% more calls from gamblers and 15% more calls from people who were concerned by someone else’s gambling addiction.
GamCare who is also focused on preventing gambling harm recently signed Karen Carney, former Chelsea and England women league player. Carney will be a spokesperson for the TalkBanStop initiative that raises awareness to women affected by gambling-related harm. Carney believes it’s important to provide support to gambling-addicted women and to help them recover. GamCare also propagated other platforms such as Gamstop and Gamban that help people solve their gambling addiction.
Football is perhaps the sport that is most heavily affected by gambling and its popularity adds up to that. Scottish Conservative Ruth Davidson emphasized that some bookmakers’ logos appear over 700 times during a Premier League game. With that frequency, they become hard to ignore and prompt vulnerable people to make uninformed choices and bet irresponsibly.
Teaching people responsible betting and moderation is key to ensuring the health of the gambling industry and correcting the bad reputation of gambling. Numerous organizations have been trying to keep people educated on the matter so they can make informed choices when deciding to gamble.