It has been an incredibly busy week in the world of Safer Gambling so let’s take a look.

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)

On Monday, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK published a report which stated that although children watched more gambling-related adverts on TV in 2020 than they did in 2008, the number has declined since 2013. In 2008, they watched 2.2 gambling ads per week, with this rising to 4.4 in 2013. It has since come down to 2.8 for 2020 although it was 2.5 for 2019.

It was also revealed that children saw 16.3% of the gambling ads that adults were exposed to – a significant reduction from 38.6% in 2008. This suggests there has been an increase in overall gambling advertising, as gambling ads made up 2.7% of all ads shown to children on TV, up from 2.2% in 2008.

GambleAware

Staying in the UK and GambleAware have published new guidelines for GPs, with the aim of enhancing the quality of care for those experiencing gambling-related harm.

The framework is endorsed by the Royal College of GPs and has a number of key objectives, including the provision of professional and tiered competencies to treat those suffering, ensuring practitioners have the required knowledge and skills to treat people with gambling-related issues, as well as providing educational and training programs to enable this.

GambleAware’s prevention director Dr. Jane Rigbye said: “To successfully prevent and help those who experience gambling harm, there needs to be a joined-up approach across the wider primary care network.

“As commissioners, we have a role to play to ensure all health care professionals have a clear understanding of gambling harms and where they can direct their patients to help or support if they need it, which is via the National Gambling Treatment Service.

“This new Competency Framework has been designed to achieve just that and we welcome the support from the Royal College of General Practitioners to develop it.”

Staying with GambleAware and they have shone a spotlight on the gambling support services provided by Citizens Advice centres, highlighting the main facilitators, barriers and opportunities for treatment.

Citizens Advice delivered England and Wales’ Gambling Support Service from October 2018 to March 2021, screening around 30,000 people for signs of gambling-related harm.

KantarPublic conducted the report which concluded that there were screening inconsistencies across Citizens Advice bureaus. These included differences in the frequency and format of screening questions, perceived stigma and the limited capacity of front-line staff in some offices.

Senior management being more strategically involved and engaged would alleviate matters, as would the observing of a ‘top-down’ promotion of screening practices.

Despite these problems, GambleAware also said that Citizens Advice centres have good expertise in providing client support in relation to sensitive issues, as well as being respected in the community. Front-line workers were also adept at identifying and supporting people with gambling problems.

Helen Owen, Evaluation and Monitoring Director at GambleAware, said: “This thorough evaluation has evidenced Citizens Advice’s important role in providing advice for people at risk of or experiencing gambling harm and signposting them to help.

“Alongside this, it has helped identify the main barriers to success for the gambling support service. With this understanding, we now have a clear view on what opportunities there are to improve the service. The learnings from this evaluation have contributed to the commissioning of the new process and model, at a National Citizens Advice level.”

Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH)

Gambling advertising has been back in the news, with the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) urging the Government to push for stronger measures against it following recent polling from YouGov.

The charity highlighted that 77% of adults and 66% of 11-17-year-olds support a ban on gambling advertising before the 9pm watershed while 63% of adults and 53% of children support a total ban on advertising, with only 14% of adults and children opposed.

76% of adults and 64% of children support gambling advertising being banned on social media and online before 9pm, while 65% of adults and 54% of children believe betting companies should not be able to sponsor sporting teams or events.

Christina Marriott, chief executive of RSPH, said: “Advertising is a powerful force in our society – it not only influences what we buy, but it also tells us what is normal, and what we should aspire to.

“Given the harm that gambling can inflict on individuals, families, workplaces and communities, we need to take a stronger stand against it being embedded into our social and cultural lives. We no longer allow air time to other products which harm our health, like tobacco products: gambling should be no different.”

Staying on advertising but moving to Sweden and their Ministry of Finance has proposed that gambling adverts should be treated like advertisements for alcohol, with new rules that could be introduced from July next year saying such adverts should require “special moderation”.

This will effectively class gambling the same as alcohol on a scale determined by risk of addiction – at present, ad controls simply call for “moderation” when promoting betting. The proposal is currently out to consultation, with responses required by 14 October.

Branschföreningen för Onlinespe (BOS)

The new proposals were rejected by Branschföreningen för Onlinespe (BOS), Sweden’s online operator association, with their secretary general Gustaf Hoffstedt saying: “Swedish-licensed gambling operators have since a peak in 2018/19 halved their advertising purchases. I do not understand how low the investments in marketing must be for the government to be satisfied.

“Gaming advertising from Swedish licensed gambling companies fulfils an important function for a safe and secure gaming market. Advertising strengthens the motivation for gambling consumers to choose Swedish-licensed gambling instead of the alarmingly high proportion of unlicensed gaming. Already today, every fourth gambling krona leaks out of the licensing system when it comes to online casino, and with that, the strong consumer protection also sips away.”

Andrew Morgan, Director, Dam Mad Media