Gambling has permeated many aspects of modern society and, as a result, young people are continually being exposed to pro-gambling messages. Many groups and individuals have been calling for a ban on gambling ads in some shape or fashion, most recently a co-founder of Paddy Power.
Reasons for such a ban
People are getting exposed to pro-gambling messages at a younger and younger age these days. Most aspects of sports are entrenched with gambling sponsorships, whether through shirt sponsors, pitch side hoarding, television advertising, or extensive social media presence. This normalizes gambling and makes it appear to be harmless and something that can be done regularly with little to no downside.
Obviously, this is not the case, and this sort of exposure can lead to serious issues down the road. Problem gambling is something that is ever growing and it has led to a number of high-profile countries taking matters into their own hands.
In recent times, both Italy and Australia have implemented different bans on certain types of gambling ads. There have been calls for the United Kingdom to do the same.
Of course, it is expected that the gambling companies will rally against such a ban because it would severely limit their advertising efforts and subsequently lead to a lesser bottom line.
Italy’s gambling ad ban
The gambling ban in Italy comes into effect on January 1, 2020, and was brought about in the recent general election. The populist Five Star Movement, which is very much opposed to gambling, was voted into power.
They quickly pushed through this wide-ranging bill that effectively prohibits any form of gambling-related advertising in the country, including sponsorships for sporting teams. They also appear to have plans in the works to crack down on gambling as a whole.
With a lot of prominent political figures in Italy having business ties to gambling companies, as well as a lot of sporting teams relying on sponsorships to fund their operations, there has been widespread outrage at these moves.
Australian gambling ad ban
The Australians did not introduce as extreme a ban as the Italians. For now, gambling-related ads are not allowed to be shown during a live sporting broadcast on Australian television sets.
A lot of people believe that this is not enough, but it could prove to be a vital stepping stone for further changes in the future. Australia has been dealing with widespread gambling addiction issues, so something had to be done in this sports-mad nation.
Latest outspoken person
Stewart Kenny, a co-founder of Paddy Power, has voiced his support for a ban on gambling ads, which is certainly an interesting approach. Paddy Power is particularly well-known for its publicity stunts and flamboyant use of social media to grab the attention of a wide audience.
Kenny has not been a member of the board since April 2016, and Paddy Power has gone through significant changes in that time, most notably merging with Betfair.
For some time, Kenny has been calling for some action against gambling advertising and his latest call to action comes as he speaks out against the current chief executive of Paddy Power Betfair for saying that such an ad ban could encourage the growth of illegal operators.
Kenny emphasized that he respects Peter Jackson, the current chief executive, but feels that he is “completely wrong” when it comes to this topic. Kenny believes that the current state of gambling sponsorship and advertising is “normalizing” gambling for young people and that “There needs to be a radical change.”
There is a group of MPs in England who are calling for such a ban and the president of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, recently called for a ban on gambling advertising at sporting events to help prevent players from developing gambling addictions. After those remarks, Jackson made his comment about the potential rise in illegal operators if this were to happen.
Kenny isn’t calling for a blanket ban on gambling advertising, but he would like to see a ban during sporting events before a particular time of day. If children are constantly bombarded with pro-gambling messages, they will feel that it is acceptable to allocate large portions of their future income on betting, which naturally would be extremely beneficial for the gambling companies, but not so good for most of the punters and society as a whole.