Gambling Bill threatened by concerns over surge in pre-watershed adverts seen by children

 

Media Editor

Concerns that a generation of children are being schooled in gambling by an explosion in television betting advertisements before the 9pm watershed have led to plans in the House of Lords to derail the Government’s Gambling Bill.

Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, will face calls for an urgent review of the effects on children of a surge in daytime adverts for online bingo, saturation sports betting for matches shown before 9pm, and “free” betting on platforms including Facebook. The challenge will be made in an amendment to the Gambling Bill, which goes before the Upper House on Tuesday.

Research by the media regulator Ofcom in November found that gambling commercials on British television had increased by 600 per cent, from 234,000 to 1.4m a year, since deregulation of the sector in September 2007.

The 1.39m gambling ads generated 30.9 billion “impacts” or individual views. The Ofcom research found that a substantial number of adverts were shown before the watershed and that while adults saw an average of 630 ads, children aged between four and 15 watched an average of 211.

There are particular concerns in the House of Lords over the impact on children of the rise in advertising for Online Bingo. Because of its reputation as a traditional communal leisure activity, bingo was made exempt from restrictions imposed in the Gambling Act of 2005. Sports-related advertising was also permitted for screening before the watershed.

“Every sports ad break now starts and finishes with gambling adverts,” said Lord Stevenson of Balmacara, one of those calling for a review of the effects on children. “It has spread from football into other sports such as tennis. You cannot watch sports without being saturated with gambling adverts and if you have kids that is worrying.”

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch said that online bingo had “taken off” but had “none of the attributes” of the game played in community centres and village halls. “It is solitary, repetitive and addictive,” she said.

“The exemptions allowing adverts for bingo and sports betting, combined with the new social media opportunities, have become major loopholes which the on-line gambling companies all too readily exploit,” she said in a posting last night on the Labour Lords blog.

“Anyone switching on morning or afternoon TV, as I did over Christmas, will see a relentless bombardment of ads for online bingo presented as an entertaining pastime with no mention of the dangers of addiction. Often these programmes are watched by children without adults present, and we know from other studies how susceptible they can be to adverts.”

There are also concerns that children are being “groomed” into gambling by sites that offer free stakes. One online poker operator, PKR, invites users to “join the next generation” and “play for free or real money”. Social game site Zynga offers free poker chips via Facebook and apps. But Baroness Jones said young people were being offered “tempting free joining offers which turn out to be anything but free”.

The challenge on pre-watershed betting adverts is just one of a series of amendments planned by Peers to overhaul Britain’s gambling laws, which are widely regarded as not having kept pace with technology.

Conservative peer Lord Moynihan, the former Sports Minister, has tabled a separate amendment to introduce a criminal offence of match-fixing, punishable by a jail sentence of up to ten years, in response to growing fears over the corruption of sport by international betting syndicates. Pakistani test cricketers found to have been fixing matches by deliberately bowling no balls had to be prosecuted under fraud laws in 2011. Lord Astor, father-in-law of Prime Minister David Cameron, is supporting another amendment to the Gambling Bill which would subject bookmakers to a levy on online betting that could be worth £20m to British horseracing.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager (EMEA) - City, London

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?