The explosion of aggressive gambling advertising, often seen by children during televised sports events, should be restricted, a senior minister has said.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander expressed his growing concern in a leaked letter to Culture Secretary Sajid Javid.
He cautioned that it is getting to the point where families cannot watch a televised sports event without being inundated by “highly solicitous advertising” from betting companies.
Alexander called for a long awaited Gambling Commission review on the issue to be released, stating, “this is a matter of principle and I believe the time to act is now”.
His letter said: “I am writing because I am growing increasingly concerned by the prevalence of betting advertising during televised sporting events that are watched by children.
“It has now become almost impossible to watch any kind of sports event without being bombarded by highly solicitous advertising”, which use “famous sport stars to encourage viewers to bet there and then via the internet”.
Alexander blamed the Labour Government for lifting restrictions on betting companies in 2007 and allowing advertising before the watershed.
He added: “But even then no one could have envisaged the explosion of aggressive advertising that has become a feature of a modern day weekend afternoon or how smartphone technology has made online betting so much more accessible.
He continued, “gambling companies should have the right to advertise their products on TV, but only after the 9pm watershed.
“Many parents enjoy sitting down with their children to watch a big sporting event. I suspect very few now consider what is advertised during the breaks acceptable.”
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has said there is evidence to indicate that such advertising would lead to an increase in problem gambling.
In August a Times columnist said the Prime Minister should “step in” to prevent children being overwhelmed by TV adverts that “normalise and glamorise” gambling.
Rachel Sylvester highlighted Ofcom findings, which show that four to fifteen-year-olds are exposed to an average of 211 gambling adverts a year each.
And she noted a 600 per cent increase in TV gambling adverts since the law was liberalised in 2007, allowing sports betting, online casinos and poker to be promoted on television.