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
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
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

Ashdown Group: Brand Marketing Manager - Essex - £45,000 + £5000 car allowance

£40000 - £45000 per annum + car allowance: Ashdown Group: Senior Brand Manager...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer /.NET Software Developer

£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer /.NET Software ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

Guru Careers: Technical Operations Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical Ope...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all