Gambling campaigner Adam Bradford responds to LGA calls to curb gambling advertising
AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT: Press Contact – Adam Bradford, tel: 07950 313113
My father David was sent to prison for fraud after stealing more than £50,000 to fund his gambling habit.
He re-mortgaged the family home and racked up debts of more than £500,000 to fund his addiction and associated financial problems. He kept his addiction secret from our family, with us only finding out about their father’s jail sentence when he had been sent to prison on the day of his court hearing. A hand-written letter from jail to the family uncovered his secret in full.
I started a campaign to restrict advertising on gambling, which has grown 600% since gambling regulation was relaxed in 2005 (Source: Ofcom.) I also visited Downing Street and worked with the NHS on the recognition of gambling as a mental health problem.
The Local Government Association are correct, gambling is hugely destructive. The knock-on effect gambling addiction has on society is understated and advertising has a huge part to play in enticing and retaining gamblers, especially problem gamblers. My dad was lured in by free bets, constant e-mails and texts from numerous companies and their affiliate marketers. Even when he was behind bars the companies continued. I saw his e-mail account receive 8000 gambling marketing e-mails when he was in prison and he received expensive marketing text messages from another company. Self-exclusion measures did not work, he was still able to gamble and set up new accounts and despite my attempts to get the companies to stop marketing to him, they did not easily budge, even knowing he had gone to prison due to crimes connected with his gambling. Gambling is Britain’s hidden epidemic.
COUNCILS CALL FOR CURB ON ‘HUGE RISE’ IN BETTING ADVERTS TO PROTECT YOUNG PEOPLE
By Josie Clarke, Press Association Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Gambling advertising needs tighter restrictions to cut the risk of harm to vulnerable young people, councils say.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the Government to consider curbing the “huge rise” in betting adverts to prevent children from developing possible gambling problems as they grow older.
Industry figures suggest that almost one in 10 children aged between 11 and 15 are now following gambling companies on social media, while the second highest rates of problem gambling are in the 16 to 24-year-old age group.
The LGA said it was concerned that the volume of gambling advertising, including ‘live bet’ TV adverts during
matches, was undermining the Government’s objective of socially responsible growth in the sector.
As well as calling for government to look at tighter restrictions on advertising, the LGA is urging maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) be reduced from #100 to #2 in line with other gaming machines allowed elsewhere on high streets.
And it wants cumulative impact tests to be introduced to enable councils to reject applications for new betting shops where there are already existing clusters when government announces its review of gaming machines and social responsibility measures.
Simon Blackburn, chairman of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, said: “Gambling advertising on television has rocketed since the Gambling Act came into force in 2007, which is a major concern for councils who are aware of the personal harm that problem gambling can cause.
“While the Gambling Act was intended to position gambling as an acceptable leisure activity, we are concerned that the volume of gambling advertising goes beyond what can be deemed the right balance between socially responsible growth and protecting individuals and communities.”
He added: “Councils are not anti-bookies but a new cumulative impact test would give them the power to veto new betting shops – and FOBTs – in places where there are already existing clusters.
“Problem gambling can lead to spiralling debt, deteriorating mental health and wellbeing, and a toll on society – and taxpayers – through crime and disorder, family breakdown and homelessness. It’s vital that improved social responsibility measures are implemented to help to reduce this.”