The UK government fired yet another shot over the bow of the country’s gambling industry yesterday when the Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley, announced to a select committee of the House of Commons yesterday.
Ms Bradley‘s evidence that gambling advertising needed reigning in was the fact that her two boys, aged 10 and 12, can “recite just about every gambling advert there is.”
Gambling-related advertisements have grown from 900,000 in 2005 to 1.4 million in 2014 (a 64% increase over a ten year period).
Most betting ads are banned from airing before the 9pm watershed, however bingo and lottery ads have always been exempt from this rule.
The recently announced review will also look at gaming terminals in betting shops.
Like many politicians before her, Ms Bradley was keen to curb the freedom those she ruled by raising fears about children.
“I know my children can recite just about every gambling advert there is,” she explained, “because they sit and watch Sky – I won’t say the name, a news channel that is 24 hour sports.
“They hear those adverts. I am interested as a parent but I am also interested as a Secretary of State in understanding what the impact is on young people of that advertising.
“I want the evidence so we can make a decision as to what’s the appropriate way that we should allow this.”
Similar fear-mongering has been invoked to justify regulation of music and video games content, rarely with any evidence of actual harm done ever produced.
Far from opposing this encroachment of the state into the lives of many adult gamblers, the Labour opposition is lending its support to the measure. According to deputy Labour leader Tom WatsonL
“Labour welcomes this review, which is long overdue.
“All the available evidence suggests these machines are highly addictive. That is why Labour wants to see the maximum stake reduce from £100 to £2.
“They can cause real and lasting damage to gamblers and they have become a huge problem for communities that are often struggling to cope with under-investment and high unemployment.”