Tom Watson 'delighted' after betting firms back televised sports advertising ban
Tom Watson has praised a decision by bookmakers to sign up to a voluntary 'whistle-to-whistle' ban on advertising during televised live sports events.
Firms including Bet365, William Hill, Betfred and Ladbrokes-Coral have agreed not to advertise during sports events after fears were raised over the impact of betting adverts on children and gambling addicts.
The proposals are likely to be formally approved at a meeting of the five major gambling industry associations next week.
It will affect games that start before the 9pm watershed, but excludes horseracing, a sport which is heavily reliant on the advertising revenues from gambling companies.
The ban is likely to be brought in before the start of the 2019-20 football season.
It was initially suggested by the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), which represents online betting firms, and comes after a Mr Watson-led Labour campaign warned of the dangers of problem gambling.
The Labour deputy leader, who is the shadow culture secretary and MP for West Bromwich East, said: “I’m delighted that gambling operators have adopted Labour’s proposal of a whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling advertising during live sport.
“With over 430,000 problem gamblers in the country, many of them children, the number of adverts during live sports had clearly reached crisis levels.
“There was clear public support for these restrictions and I’m glad that for once the industry, led by the RGA, has taken its responsibilities seriously and listened.”
A number of gambling industry bosses have said they would support greater restrictions on advertising to protect children.
In recent years concerns have risen about normalisation of gambling, partly due to the sheer volume of adverts during televised sport, particularly live football matches.
Many MPs, including Mr Watson, want to see further measures, including a ban on credit card payments to gambling firms.
Matt Zarb-Cousin, a spokesman for the Fairer Gambling campaign group, said: “This is long overdue, but to be truly effective it should have also included bans on shirt and league sponsorship and pitch-side rolling displays.”