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A lot has changed since 2005 when the last gambling act was drafted. From smartphones to social media and everything in between we have borne witness to a technological revolution that has flipped the gambling industry over its head and altered it forever.

The significant shifts in the gambling landscape however have still failed to be acknowledged in the Gambling Act as the UK government still scrambles to work on what will be the first significant piece of legislation on gambling in nearly 20 years.

The UK government’s crackdown on gambling legislations comes after they announced a review of Tony Blair’s Gambling Act, back in 2019 to ensure it was fit for the digital age covering the rise of online casinos, poker matches, virtual slot machines as well as sports betting.

In other words, operators better take heed of any noteworthy updates, particularly big brand UK no deposit casinos listed on, because they stand to lose the most.
Gambling Advertising
While most European countries have been tightening the reins on gambling advertising from recent reforms announced over the last few months in Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany to changes announced in Italy a few years ago. The UK remains far behind with football remaining the industry’s largest cash cow.

Of the top 40 clubs in English football, 25 have a gambling sponsor with 8 Premier league clubs now displaying gambling firm names on the front of their shirts. It has also been reported that gambling logos appear approximately 700 times during major football matches broadcast across the country.

Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith who forms part of the All Party Parliamentary Group on gambling-related harm stated that the group has spent years lobbying to force gambling companies to pay a statutory levy and a ban on their names on football shirts to further protect vulnerable children and young adults from the constant promotion. With controversial bespoke deals including Wayne Rooney and Derby County’s tie-up with the online casino 32Red shading light on the desperate need for action.

Additionally, an estimated 28,000 ads per year are posted by the social media accounts of major players in the betting industry with research indicating that the Twitter ads appeal to children and young people. This is especially problematic as around 30,000 people aged 11 to 16 reportedly suffer from harmful gambling habits including financial, emotional and social difficulties.
Mental Health Crisis
According to recent studies there are already 400 gambling-related suicides every year in the UK which has led to NHS opening up clinics across the UK to treat individuals with gambling problems. By the end of the year, it is anticipated that there will be 15 NHS centers dedicated to treating these issues.

Behind the scenes charities and parliamentarians have been demanding change and piling on the pressure. Matt Gaskell, the clinical lead for the NHS Northern Gambling Service, has been lobbying for the government to propose a statutory levy on the gambling companies and to develop a public health message.

Currently, the public health messaging and research around gambling has been founded by the gambling industry which calls into question not just its legitimacy but also its impact to influence the public into making well informed decisions.
What’s Next?
Unfortunately the unprecedented changes in prime ministers and secretary of state for culture, which there have been eight of in the last five years caused a delay in the publication of the white paper, pushing the need for reform onto the back burner.

Now that the UK government appears to have achieved some stability, many are calling for the predatory industry to be held accountable for their role in the rise of mental health issues related to gambling, particularly when it comes to putting children and people at risk.

It has been suggested that the UK should follow in the footsteps of Italy and Belgium and put a full advertising and sponsorship ban. However this has been met with much resistance from the UK gambling industry and its lobbying group, the Betting and Gaming Council, who have argued that pushing these reforms would result in a rise in black market gambling.

As the industry continues to grow reportedly taking £14.4bn from UK punters every year which is equivalent to more than £200 from every man, woman and child in the UK, it is time for the gambling act review to acknowledge gambling’s industry’s responsibility to the greater public. The new revised act must not ignore the mounting evidence that substantiates the link between harm and the industry.

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