British MPs criticize gambling firms for their ‘thinly veiled’ adverts
British politicians have severely criticized gaming firms, alleging that the firms have made a dent into their own pledge in which they had agreed to stop advertising during the lockdown period.
Pushing for an immediate intervention by the government, MPs said several gambling firms undermined their promise not to publicize or advertize during the lockdown period by showing “thinly veiled” adverts cloaked as social responsibility messages.
In a letter to Culture Minister Nigel Huddleston, a cross-party group of British MPs underlined that the gaming firms’ social messages posted during lockdown were nothing more than their hyped adverts to attract more and more people towards gambling.
Last month, the Betting & Gaming Council (BGC) pledged that all gaming firms would suspend television and radio adverts because of concerns that adults as well as children were at greater risk of indulging in harmful betting practices during Covid-19 lockdown.
Gambling marketing expert Prof. Samantha Thomas, of Australia-based Deakin University, informed that educational adverts from industries like alcohol and tobacco achieve nothing more than promoting the brands.
Commenting on the topic, Prof. Thomas said, “All the evidence from areas like alcohol and tobacco tells us that industry educational ads achieve nothing, and can contribute to promoting the brands. An especially concerning aspect is that they are actually inviting people to visit their websites.”
One advert for the casino firm Mr. Green attracted people by claiming that one could enjoy award-winning online casino only with Mr. Green. It was a part of the firm’s social message. Similarly, Sky Betting & Gaming’s casino showed someone, saying that was why he played at SkyVegas.
Led by the Labour’s Carolyn Harris, members of the all-party parliamentary group on gambling harm, argued that the gaming firms’ so-called social responsibility messages were clearly mere covert plans for advertising.
The social responsibility messages were shown under the signs of the firms’ casino divisions, rather than under their generic brand names. The adverts clearly led to a significant increase in traffic towards the online casinos.
The criticism of gaming firms by the MPs has come just after gambling firm Betway was fined £11.6 million for accepting stolen money and not taking sufficient steps to protect its customers. The fine represented the gambling regulators increasing pressure on the industry to take more steps to protect gaming addicts.
A charity named “Gambling with Lives,” which was set up by families hit by gambling-related suicides, urged the Betting & Gaming Council to get its own members to act decently, instead of forcing the regulators to compel the industry to do more to protect customers.