During the just-concluded 2018 FIFA World Cup, many people and households complained about being bombarded with betting and gambling adverts. Much of the complaints have concerned the intrusive nature of those adverts.
Many have claimed that the adverts ate a few of their live matches. A number of the complaints have concerned the urgent manner in which the advertisers have wanted their target audience to bet. In light of this, a whopping 115 have forwarded their complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority.
An independent study by the Guardian deduced that on average, UK viewers were exposed to around 90 minutes of betting adverts throughout the four-week tournament. The research also pointed out that most parents were uncomfortable with the fact that their children were exposed to such adverts.
This, they argued had the impact of normalizing gambling and inducing their young ones to the practice before they are old enough to do so. Lastly, there was also concern among viewers of the way in which the betting firms push their message. Most they said used pressure tactics that made them respond impulsively. There was some unanimity among the viewers that some appropriate actions be taken in response to this menace.
In light of these allegations, the UK advertising watchdog has instituted official investigations. The main target is the Bet365, Carol, and William Hill which has been identified as the greatest culprits. They have allegedly broken the new rules that were put in place to put a halt on problem gambling.
These three firms have been noted to have crossed certain boundaries. The formats they use and the messages they have used have particularly been identified and being way off the mark. These approaches are not recommended for gambling adverts as they tend to encourage problem gambling.
The UK advertising watchdog is currently evaluating those complaints to ascertain the grounds on which to institute formal investigations. They are particularly going to deduce whether the tactics that were used by those companies indeed violated the advertising codes of the United Kingdom.
The advertising watchdog is expected to follow the footsteps of its Australian counterparts in charting the way forward. In light of this, it is anticipated to recommend a variety of steps to be taken in response to the menace. It may, for instance, recommend an overhaul of the existing laws, an alteration of the mandate of the advertising watchdog, and the penalization of the at-fault betting firms.
The UK advertising watchdog has no jurisdiction to oversee the number of adverts which appear in the FIFA World Cup matches. This is because such matches fall outside the mandate of the rules which govern gambling companies and their adverts, especially towards small children. It is therefore interesting to see its recommendations as regards the way forward.
This being the case, the Advertising Standards Authority shall only be to determine whether the said betting adverts which featured live odds broke the new rules that we put in place in February. It will also seek to determine whether the firms encouraged the menace of problem gambling.
Farther afield, many other nations have already started taking this path. Italy, for instance, has already started putting in a legal framework to completely ban gambling adverts. Its Minister for Labour and Economic Development, Luigi Di Maio has taken the lead on the issue.
He noted that whereas the practice of gambling generates plenty of tax revenue to the government, its grave societal repercussions far outweigh the tax revenues. He further termed it as a disease which has to be eliminated by all means. These steps shall take effect from January 2019 despite opposition from a number of betting firms.