More needs to be done to protect children and young people from being drawn into gambling addiction, members of both Houses of Parliament have warned.
Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum fear that regular exposure to betting ads is desensitising children to the dangers of gambling.
The Government is currently considering reforms to gambling law, which could see the most significant changes to advertising and the running of the industry since the introduction of the Gambling Act 2005.
In a Daily Mail audit of TV ads shown during live coverage of key matches in the European Football Championship, the newspaper found viewers – many of whom were children – were subject to multiple gambling commercials.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris, Chairwoman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Gambling Related Harm, told the Mail: “Gambling adverts groom children to think betting is a harmless pastime, and it’s not.”
The SNP’s Ronnie Cowan commented: “The beautiful game is being used as a Trojan horse. The ads are still there and children are being exposed to them, affecting them as they grow up.”
Conservative MP Richard Holden, added: “Yet another major championship has been tainted by gambling advertising.”
Writing in The Times, both Harris and Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Foster of Bath observed: “Not only were our children avidly watching football during the Euros, but eight Premier League clubs feature gambling logos on their shirts.
“Children are also spending increasing amounts of time online, and even their magazines and (video) games like Fifa feature gambling adverts.”
What we wanted to see was football coming home and not the gambling ads with it.
The article continued: “One recent edition of the BBC’s Match of the Day magazine featured 52 gambling logos.”
The MP and Peer cited a “wealth of new research” demonstrating there is a “clear link” between gambling ads and potential gambling harm, concluding: “What we wanted to see was football coming home and not the gambling ads with it.”
MPs have also raised concerns about the growth in sales for National Lottery operator Camelot, after The Daily Telegraph revealed it had made in excess of £1 billion from its online games last year.
In a record year for Camelot, with revenue of £8.37 billion, the newspaper reported that the majority of the company’s increased sales had come from Instant Win Games.
Former Conservative Party leader, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, criticised Camelot for offering the “more addictive Instant Win products”, arguing they should be “stopped immediately”. Carolyn Harris branded the games “mini casinos”.