Lord Kirkhope Pushes for a Complete Ban on Gambling Adverts

A complete ban on gambling adverts may be the only way to protect the vulnerable according to Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate.

Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate gambling adverts
Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate believes a complete ban on gambling adverts may be necessary. (Image: Twitter/@LordKirkhope)

Raising the question during a House of Lords meeting on January 16, Lord Timothy Kirkhope called for clarity on the government’s plan to curb all forms of gambling advertising.

As the Conservative Minister responsible for gambling during the 1990s, Lord Kirkhope was behind a move to block gambling ads on TV. Highlighting this, he made it clear to the House that changes made by the Labour Government in 2005 may have been to the detriment of the country. 

“Sadly, in 2005 the Labour Government of that time totally liberalised this and we ended up with a great and continuing problem. We now have a total of £234 million of advertising revenue from gambling on television,” said Lord Kirkhope.

Slew of Gambling Adverts Concern Lord

Although he went onto to applaud the recent whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling adverts during live sporting events, he raised concerns that more needs to be done.

In response, Lord Ashton of Hyde, the Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said that millions has been spent on campaigns designed to educate consumers. Alongside the responsible gambling message that now accompanies all TV ads, new provisions to prevent “bet now” messages are being formulated.

During the discussion, online advertising was also held under the spotlight, as was the complex issue of skin betting. Regarded as the biggest danger to children by Lord Alton of Liverpool, the issue of gambling in video games has been as source of contention for the last two years.

In a 2017 survey carried out by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), 11 percent of those aged 11-to-16 admitted placing bet via video games or free-play social apps. In addition to skin betting, loot boxes have also raised the issue of gambling in video games and what responsibilities developers have.

Skin Betting Continues to Raise Debate

Responding to the comment, Lord Ashton said that gambling for in-game items which can then be converted into cash is a form of gambling that requires a licence. However, he acknowledged that the issue is more complex and something that needs addressing.

“We are seeking to work with the video games industry to raise awareness of that and explore solutions, but I take the noble Lord’s point. We are aware of gambling in games and it is a new issue of which we are taking account,” Lord Ashton concluded.

Tackling the nature and frequency of gambling adverts in the UK will continue to be a topic of debate throughout 2019. With the government and the UKGC pushing for greater levels of social responsibility, material that appears to target the vulnerable will inevitably lead to more fines for operators.

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