New research has found that the UK’s poorest areas are the spots most likely to have the highest number of gambling and betting shops. These findings have fuelled existing concerns that many gambling addiction charities and helplines already had regarding gambling operators exploiting poorer citizens. According to data presented by Compare.bet there are over 7000 betting shops in the UK, so a majority of these being in poorer towns is something that needs to be addressed.
For many, gambling is just an enjoyable pastime. However, for others, it can be something more and that is likely to be addressed in future legislation put out by the UK Gambling Commission. There are already a set of new rules coming into place for gambling throughout the UK in October – but as you might expect the rules are often reviewed, which means
there are likely to be more changes in the future too.
The Pitfalls of Gambling
It’s no secret that gambling for entertainment can easily turn into an addiction.
The study conducted by the University of Bristol found that betting shops are a staggering 10 times more likely to be found in areas where citizens have economic challenges. This statistic has caught the attention of several gambling addiction charities who know the impact this targeting can have on the people living in these communities. Ms Ritchie from gambling addiction charity, Gambling With Lives, told the BBC, “Predatory gambling companies target the poor and the young. We know the tragic cost of this targeting – at least one death per day.”
With this shocking information coming to light, many have started to wonder if the UK will see further amendments to gambling legislation. The Betting and Gaming service has been quick to point out that the gambling industry plays a pivotal role in the UK’s economy, however, senior research associate, Jamie Evans from the University Of Bristol dismissed this statement, pointing out that, “While gambling premises may provide jobs, we know that gambling can lead to a wide variety of financial, social and health problems, with problem gambling affecting not just the gambler themselves but many of those closest to them as well.”
Children are regularly exposed to gambling marketing, despite being aged below the legal gambling age limit.
The popularity of gambling logos and betting shop names has exploded over recent years, with studies showing that many children and teenagers can name 15+ gambling operator names, despite not even being legally old enough to partake in gambling. Not only this, but with popular and relatively lesser-known gambling operators advertising-free bets and other enticing offers for new sign-ups, it’s now entirely possible to have a fully-loaded casino at your fingertips thanks to smartphone apps. Liz Ritchie, the co-founder of Gambling with Lives, lost her son to his gambling addiction which he developed whilst at school. She now works tirelessly to educate and aid families and individuals with gambling addictions.
Responsibility of the Media
The media prominently feature gambling adverts and sign up offers.
This isn’t an easy job, as gambling logos are prevalent in almost all areas of the media. TV, films, newspapers, and social media all market gambling bodies, with TV, not even limiting the exposure of these adverts by waiting to air them until after the 9 pm watershed on regular channels. 2021 has seen a backlash over gambling advertisements in sport too, as it was revealed that over half of
Premier League football shirts have gambling branding prominently featured.
With this level of bombardment, it’s no wonder that so many turn to gambling, especially those in less wealthy communities. With promotional offers engineered to entice and captivate new users, it’s extremely difficult to avoid what often seems like an offer that’s too good to miss out on
What Changes Need To Happen?
There have been steps taken to reduce the exposure of gambling adverts. Could there be more changes to legislation in the future?
The Betting and Gaming council – the association representing the regulated betting industry – has taken steps to try and reduce the exposure of gambling-related advertising that children see. To limit the marketing children view from gambling bodies, betting adverts must not be shown on live TV sporting events during commercial breaks from 5 minutes before a live sporting event begins, until five minutes after it ends, before the 9 pm watershed.
The UK Gambling Commission has introduced new restrictions that are to come into effect by the end of October. These are said to increase the safety of players using online slots – a game of luck that creates such euphoria when won, and devastating blows when lost – due to its addictive intensity. UKGC’s new rules ban a few slot features, such as Autoplay, which the regulatory body claims often takes control away from players as they lose track of their spending.
The biggest controversy over gambling marketing is yet to come, with indicators suggesting there could be a ban on gambling companies sponsoring football and darts players. Many football clubs and players have come out in support of the notion, however, gambling brands and sports authorities are less than happy due to potential curb in income. It’s clear to see that the future holds more restrictions and reforms when it comes to gambling legislation – whilst we’re not sure what is to come, it’s likely to focus on less visual advertising and reformed online gaming features that disguise players remaining funds.
It’s not likely there will ever be a complete ban on gambling; however, rules and regulations are likely to get stricter. An onus will most certainly be put on betting operators who will be in charge of making sure that they operate responsibly. This will include more checks on its users and ensuring their platform is being used in the right way.