The Labour Party has announced that it will put a stop to gambling ads during live sport if it gets into government, with an exception for horseracing.
The move was publicised by deputy leader Tom Watson ahead of the party’s conference, which starts next week, and follows a year-long review by Watson and shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth.
Several submissions to the review called for a ban or reduction in live sports advertising, with work for gambling brands accounting for 17% of all ads on TV during the recent World Cup, according to Labour.
Among them was Paddy Power/Betfair, which, according to Labour, supports policy reducing the amount of pre-watershed advertising due to its concern that young children may be exposed to TV gambling advertising.
Watson’s efforts to publicise the policy today highlight the Gambling Commission’s finding that there are more than 400,000 problem gamblers in the UK as well as public concern about children’s exposure to gambling ads.
“It’s time for a line in the sand to protect our children,” Watson said.
Labour’s proposals on advertising met with swift opposition from the Advertising Association.
A ban “would have a damaging economic effect on our UK commercial media landscape, as well as make watching live sport more expensive and less accessible for the UK public,” the AA declared.
Current polling puts Labour and the Conservatives roughly neck and neck on between 35% and 40% of the vote, but there seems little prospect of a general election before 2022, unless Theresa May’s government is brought down by internal opposition.
However, Labour is picking up on popular disquiet about the volume of gambling ads and the social utility of betting. According to the Gambling Commission the proportion of the population who agree that gambling is fair and can be trusted is at 34%, down from 49% in 2008.