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Julie Moraine June 16, 2023 3 min read
Guardian Media Group Closes the Door to Gambling Advertising
Guardian Media Group believes it is unethical to make money from services that can cause "addiction and financial ruin"
Guardian Media Group has moved to prohibit any forms of gambling advertising from appearing on its online and print outlets, The Guardian, Observer, and Guardian Weekly, with immediate effect.
Gambling Advertising Facilitates Addiction
The media group outlined ethical concerns behind its decision to ban gambling advertising, including promotions for sports betting, online casinos and scratch cards, refusing to make money out of services that can lead to “addiction and financial ruin.”
Commenting on the decision, Guardian Media Group’s chief executive officer, Anna Bateson, outlined that gambling advertising plays a significant role in leading gamblers into addictive cycles, thus facilitating financial stress, mental health issues and other social problems.
“Guardian journalists have reported on the devastating impact of the gambling industry in the UK and Australia, helping to shift the dial and ensure the issue remains high on the public agenda,” Bateson said, pointing to studies revealing “a clear correlation between exposure to gambling advertising and increased intentions to engage in regular gambling.”
Bateson was in particular concerned about the way online advertising from bookmakers was designed to lure back individual gamblers, determined to make sure the business fulfills its “primary obligation” and “do the right thing” for its readers, while utilizing “other ways to generate revenue.”
Lotteries Excluded from the Ban
The ban applies worldwide to all of the company’s online and print outlets. Gambling advertising for lotteries was excluded from the ban as the media recognized the lotteries’ social contribution in terms of raising money for good causes, as well as the “non-instantaneous” nature of lottery draws.
“We understand and respect that millions of our readers, including our reporters and staff, are passionate sports fans who may occasionally choose to engage in gambling as part of their sporting experience,” Bateson continued.
Highlighting that the media fully supports “the enjoyment of sports” and respects “individuals’ choices to participate in occasional gambling on football, horse racing, or any other sport,” she pointed out that “the pervasive nature of retargeted digital advertisements” and their potential to trap some of the sports fans in an addictive cycle was the media’s main concern.
Bateson also noted the independent ownership structure of Guardian Media Group allowed the media to make these types of decisions. The media relies on direct contributions from its readers, rather than advertising, for its income.
The Guardian’s decision to ban gambling advertising on its online and print pages comes during times when the Gambling Act Review in the UK produced the much-awaited White Paper, while countries like Canada and Australia consider further tightening their gambling regimes.