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Updated by Ralph Trayfalgar
The UK Gambling Commission is ramping up towards its first major reform to national gambling legislation since 2005 as the gambling industry watches with bated breath. However, recent developments are implying the industry might end up taking a darker turn moving forward.
Just weeks before the gambling review white paper is set to be released, the UK government is pushing for more anti-gambling initiatives, in what appears to be a preemptive move. From the granting of exemptions to legislators to avoid investigations or the introduction of new restrictions on gambling-related advertising, the UK government is sending a fairly clear message.
Advertising has always been a highly contentious subject for the UK gambling industry, especially in the realm of sports betting. The United Kingdom has already begun to tighten down on gambling advertisements in sports, but it intends to go far further in this regard, and this pushback has even gathered support from within the sporting community itself.
Beginning in October, gambling businesses will no longer be allowed to use athletes, well-known social media personalities, or reality television stars as pitchmen in their advertisements. In addition, advertisements will not be permitted to include well-known athletes, nor will they be permitted to depict individual sports teams’ uniform ensembles or venues.
Furthermore, the new restrictions would prevent UK online casinos from using video game content as promotional material in their operations. The restriction applies to any and all advertising mediums, including television, radio, the internet, newspapers, and billboards.
With the Grand National coming on Saturday, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) anticipates that 13 million individuals will make bets on the event, resulting in a total transaction of €250 million (£208 million) for the betting industry.
With its expected viewership and revenue in mind, the BGC has reiterated its comments on the paradoxical nature of many gambling regulations, particularly that of affordability checks. According to the Council, if the government forces affordability checks on gamblers, they may be tempted to turn to black-market alternatives to avoid the hassle.
Live attendance will be allowed again in this year’s Grand National, the largest annual horse racing event in the UK, the first time in two years. However, it is possible that this will be the final large event before the country is permanently sucked into the rabbit hole of restrictions.