The head of the social policy group Care has written to the chairman and chief executive of ITV criticising its decision not to suspend gambling adverts during the 유로 2020 football tournament, which starts on Friday.
ITV said last week that the number of gambling adverts would be “significantly reduced” but critics have pointed out that the broadcaster has not taken any new action to limit them.
While the number of betting ads will be lower than during the 2018 World Cup, that is due to the gambling industry’s voluntary “whistle-to-whistle” ban on ads shown during live sports events before 9pm.
They will still be shown after the watershed, as well as any period of a football broadcast that falls more than five minutes before kick-off or five minutes after the final whistle.
In a letter, Nola Leach, the chief executive of Care (Christian Action Research and Education), called on the ITV chairman, Sir Peter Bazalgette, and the chief executive, Carolyn McCall, to forgo gambling ad revenue during the tournament.
“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," 그녀가 말했다.
“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.”
An ITV spokesperson reiterated that there has been a significant reduction compared with the 2018 World Cup, when the broadcaster ran almost 90 minutes of gambling ads, prompting claims that children were being “bombarded”.
During that tournament, calls by gamblers to the helpline of the GamCare charity increased by 5%, while calls from people affected by someone else’s habit, most of them women, jumped by 15%.
“The majority of matches ITV plans to broadcast live have 2pm or 5pm kick-offs and will have no gambling ads under the ‘whistle-to-whistle’ ban,” ITV said, though it acknowledged this did not apply outside the five-minute buffer zone either side of the first and last whistle.
“The remainder (which all have an 8pm kick-off) will have no gambling ads in the ad breaks [immediately] before kick-off or at half time.”
On Tuesday, GamCare said it had signed up the former women’s footballer Karen Carney, who played for Chelsea and England, to promote its TalkBanStop campaign highlighting the danger posed to women by gambling.
“Ahead of the upcoming Euros, it is important we raise awareness of the support that is available,” said Carney.
“There is a stigma associated for women and challenges around speaking out and seeking help, so it’s key to highlight the link between gambling and sport to help these women and girls on their journey to recovery.”
The relationship between gambling and football is under intense scrutiny, as the government weighs up reform of laws governing the sector.
A Channel 4 documentary that aired on Monday night found gambling logos can appear more than 700 times during a Premier League game, prompting the former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson – who presented the programme – to described gambling as a “parasite taking over the host”.
For free help and advice about problem gambling, go to BeGambleAware.org or call the national gambling helpline on 0808 8020 133.
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