Members of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) have just announced that they will voluntarily remove all TV and radio product advertising during the COVID-19 lockdown as addiction experts describe this as “an unprecedented step in unprecedented times”.
The announcement is the latest in the series of measures taken as part of the BGC’s ‘Ten Pledges for COVID-19’ campaign revealed in March. The removal of all product advertising during the Coronavirus crisis is to ensure that punters are protected during the pandemic, despite a drop in advertising spend in addition to a 10% drop in the volume of TV sport and casino advertisements.
BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher calls for others to do the same, stating; “I hope now that other major gambling operators like the National Lottery follow our lead.”
Current betting and gaming advertising slots will be replaced by safer gambling messages, donated to charities or removed completely from scheduled broadcast where possible. Changes will be made ‘no later than Thursday 7th May’ and will last until at least 5th June.
Betting and gaming addiction treatment experts at UKAT have mixed feelings about today’s announcement by the BGC. Former gambling addict and managing director of UKAT Eytan Alexander said: “Today’s announcement is without a doubt a welcomed unprecedented step in these unprecedented times. But what I can’t get my head around is how the BGC will be able to justify switching the adverts back on once the country enters it’s recovery journey from the Coronavirus crisis; those most vulnerable and susceptible to betting and gaming adverts right now will still be susceptible to them once this is all over. Those vulnerable may turn to betting and gaming as a coping strategy now, and again in 12 months time for something else that is happening in their lives. But, without added encouragement to do so, they might not take that step now, and they might not in 12 months time. Unless the adverts are switched back on again.
“So, if the BGC identify and appreciate the significant benefits this ban will have to protect punters now, why not ban advertising forever?”