The independent London newspaper

Time to kick out the ads for betting firms

16 August, 2019

• SO footballer Wayne Rooney, ex-England captain and icon of Manchester United, is to be player-coach for Derby County, sponsored by online betting company 32Red that will be his shirt number.

This has raised moral and ethical concerns. Two million people are “problem gamblers” with 500,000 addicts. Should there be curbs on advertising, as there are for narcotics alcohol or tobacco, as gambling addiction is addiction?

There has been a four-fold increase of young gambling addicts over the past four years. More young gamble than take drugs, drink or smoke.

And the industry has doubled its profits to £15billion annually over the past 20 years. Actor Ray Winstone advertises BET365 by saying “Bet responsibly”.

I do not think, even though I have rarely placed a bet, gambling should be banned. But I do feel strongly advertising in all forms should be.

My father and older brother were addicts to gambling. And it wrecks lives as sure as heroin or drink. I have separated my personal feelings and thought hard about the issue of advertising gambling and come down on the side of “I’m dead against it…”. Regulation has not worked.

Gambling in the UK is one of the most regulated in EU. Its mention of changes are nothing but gestures when greed has driven it out of control to become obscene.

What has reduced, but has not been eliminated, is tobacco, where a ban on advertising, lighting up at work or in public establishments, or on transport, has brought about a change in culture and habits.

Look at the CEO of BET365, Denise Coates CBE, who revealed an annual income of £265million. Her dad, a bookie, is owner of Stoke FC.

With 35 per cent of all gambling in the UK now online what can a local council with its guidelines do?

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