People throughout the sport industry are reacting to reports that the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has struck a deal to stop betting advertisements during live sports broadcasts.
The RGA, an industry lobby whose members include Bet365, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power, has voluntarily agreed to stop what has become known as ‘whistle-to-whistle’ advertising, according to the BBC.
Final ratification will be required from the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) before any ban, which will not include horse racing, is put into action.
It follows months of speculation linked to the impact of a sharp rise in betting-related sponsorship and advertising, particularly in football.
Reacting to the news, Misha Sher, worldwide vice president at sport and entertainment agency MediaCom Worldwide, said: “While it’s a big headline, in some sense it’s not unexpected. The regulators and stakeholders have been looking at this for a long time.
“The rise in betting ads has been so significant in recent years and there has been so much discussion about links to societal problems, particularly among young people.
“This is the betting sector putting their hand up, recognising the issue and demonstrating their willingness to be part of the conversation.
"The fact that they’ve done it voluntarily and collectively speaks to the scale of the problem and the understanding of how big a deal it now is. They realise they would’ve been forced into it otherwise.”
Sher added that for the media industry, there could be a very significant impact on short term revenues of traditional broadcasters.
"This is a very big development because so much of their [betting firms’] business happens during the matches – that’s when people are most engaged. So much of the spend is around live games.
"For me, there’s an interesting question around how this will play out on digital channels. Because a lot the societal issues here are related to younger people. And most of that demographic aren’t actually watching live sport on linear TV.”
Sher went on to highlight that of all the sports, it was football which would feel the biggest impact, given the financial value of the sport to both broadcasters and gambling organisations.
“Obviously, given how much betting has underpinned commercial revenue in football means the impact on soccer in particular could be quite significant. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to some of those shirt [sponsorship] deals down the line.
Sher added: “What’s clear is that we haven’t seen the last of this. There’ll be much more to come in the next 12 months in terms of the debate around the role of betting in the sport."
Others adding their voices to the debate include MP Jeremy Wright, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS), who tweeted: “Welcome move from gambling firms today on advertising ban during live sport. Pleased to see industry responding to concerns raised and helping to protect children and vulnerable people from risks of gambling related harm.”
Welcome move from gambling firms today on advertising ban during live sport. Pleased to see industry responding to concerns raised and helping to protect children and vulnerable people from risks of gambling related harm. https://t.co/9zNHqv2FkI— Jeremy Wright MP (@DCMS_SecOfState) 6 December 2018
Echoing Wright’s thoughts, fellow MP Tom Watson, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for DCMS said: “Delighted that gambling operators have taken up Labour's proposal for a whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling advertising during live sport.”
Delighted that gambling operators have taken up Labour's proposal for a whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling advertising during live sport. Here's a reminder of a few other ways to address the UK's hidden epidemic of gambling addiction. pic.twitter.com/ZBHYwlvmpG— Tom Watson (@tom_watson) 6 December 2018
Julie Morgan, Welsh Labour assembly member for Cardiff North added: “So many young people watch sport and are exposed to gambling advertising in ad breaks, so this is a welcome step.”
Photo: © Getty Images