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'ITV's refusal to ban gambling advertising during Euros puts most vulnerable at risk'

10 June 2021
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ITV's refusal to ban gambling advertising during the Euros will fail vulnerable viewers and compound gambling-related harms, a leading Christian charity has said.

Social policy charity CARE has written to the broadcaster expressing 'deep disappointment' at its failure to act, despite calls for an all-out ban on advertising from leading health experts. The letter, from CARE CEO Nola Leach to to ITV Chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette and ITV Chief Executive Carolyn McCall, states:

"I write concerning your statement this month in response to calls for a total ban on gambling adverts during the UEFA European Championships 2021:

'The amount of gambling advertising around the live broadcast of football matches at the Euros will be significantly reduced compared to the 2018 World Cup. The majority of matches ITV plans to broadcast live will have no gambling ads under the ‘whistle to whistle’ ban and the remainder, which all have an 8PM kick-off, will have no gambling ads in the ad breaks before kick-off and before 9PM.'

As the CEO of an organisation which is working to raise awareness of gambling-related harms and see them reduced through legislative action I was deeply disappointed by this response, which confirms that you do not intend to take any further action to reduce the number of adverts shown.

As you will be aware, calls for a full suspension of gambling advertising during the Euros have been echoed by various policymakers and experts as part of The Big Step campaign. Signatories of a recent letter included Christina Marriot, CEO of the Royal Society for Public Health, and Louisa Mason, Senior Policy and Communications Executive at the Gambling Health Alliance.

The issue of gambling-related harms could not be more serious and has become particularly pronounced in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, which saw a general rise in betting.

Whilst for some, gambling is just harmless fun, for a significant minority it causes genuine devastation. Addiction to betting can lead to job loss, relationship breakdown, family breakdown and suicide. At present, there are estimated to be 430,000 adult problem gamblers in the UK.

The number of 11–16-year-olds who are also classified as problem gamblers is a staggering 55,000. It is well known that the growing availability of online betting, alongside a lack of restrictions and penalties on gambling advertising have ensnared a new generation of gamblers.

An All-Party Parliamentary Group on Problem Gambling has been set up and there have been numerous debates in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords on the issue. The recent call for action by British broadcasters was from the chair of the APPG, Ronnie Cowan MP.

If you truly care about justice and protecting vulnerable viewers, please demonstrate this by reversing your decision and agreeing to a ban on ads. With your leadership on this issue, other broadcasters will follow suit."


Notes for Editors:

CARE is a well-established mainstream Christian charity providing resources and helping to bring Christian insight and experience to matters of public policy and practical caring initiatives. CARE is represented in the UK Parliaments and Assemblies.

For interview requests or more information please contact Jamie Gillies: // 07384467819

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While for some, gambling is just harmless fun, for a significant minority it causes genuine devastation. Our vision is to see laws passed that will help protect vulnerable problem gamblers.

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