‘Gambling adverts should have addiction warnings’

Gambling adverts should feature health warnings like tobacco, a cross-party group of MPs and Peers say.

In an open letter to culture secretary Matt Hancock, the group also calls for gambling ads during live sporting events to be banned.

It comes as the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced action against gambling sites for associating with youth culture.

‘Risk of addiction’

The group of parliamentarians back recommendations from the ResPublica think tank and say gambling advertising “should be consistent with other types of addictive or harmful products to public health such as cigarette packs”.

They also warn that gambling adverts featuring phrases like ‘win’ and ‘fun’ are “normalising the idea of gambling as a leisure pursuit rather than acknowledging the risk of addiction.”

Gambling adverts on TV are currently banned before the watershed, but are permitted during live sports broadcasts or for bingo.

The group warns: “We’ve found that this loophole both undermines the principle of the watershed and poses a risk of harm to young people.”

‘Without fear’

“We think the only way of closing the current loophole is a comprehensive ban on gambling advertising during live sporting events, including TV ads, billboard ads and clothing sponsorship”, the letter added.

It went on to state that many gambling firms are “able to exploit loopholes in legislation without fear of meaningful sanction”.

Its signatories include: Fiona Bruce MP (Conservative), Rosie Cooper MP (Labour), Norman Lamb MP (Liberal Democrats) and the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans.

‘Not appear again’

A spokeswoman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has responded to the call for action, saying: “From next month, responsible gambling messages must appear on screen throughout all television gambling adverts, and a multimillion-pound safer gambling advertising campaign will launch later this year.”

Earlier this week, the ASA announced that three gambling games were “likely to appeal to children” and “must not appear again in this form”.

The games – Fairytale Legends Red Riding Hood, Fairytale Legends Hansel and Gretel, and Fairies Forest – were being promoted by an online betting company.

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