When it comes to good causes, a collaborative effort works wonders. In the case of the UK government's latest problem gambling campaign, online firms across the country have agreed to chip in on the scheme and help the government fund it.
That's a surprisingly generous move, considering casinos (even online ones) have a reputation for running off with your money – a stereotype that is mostly untrue, of course, but sometimes some casinos slip up. However, is this move truly an altruistic one or are companies doing it for their own interests? Let's just say it's probably a mixture of both.
Another Problem Gambling Campaign
If you've been gambling for a while now, you've probably noticed that the government has spent a lot of money on problem gambling campaigns. Not that these efforts are fruitless, but there are only so many times the government can do it without it seeming half-hearted. So many of you may already be asking: “if they've done this so many times already, what's so special about this new campaign?”
Aside from all these gambling firms providing monetary support and from the surge in complaints from the ASA, not much. The campaign planned for 2018 aims to quell the allegedly rising numbers in problem gambling sufferers. This is what has apparently inspired these betting firms to donate money where necessary, though one can't help but question their motives.
Bid For Good Publicity
When at least one of the betting firms claims they want to help this campaign has had a bad history of problem gamblers, their sincerity soon disappears. While you can still have good intentions and a dodgy history (and some may say this is a rather cynical outlook on the issue), it's obvious that company is only partaking in it to improve their image.
The scandal, which involved problem gambling under their watch, seriously harmed their reputation. And what better way to fix it than to offer the government money to assist with this new campaign? Still, £8 million is a very good offer to make and we don't doubt the operator has good intentions. They may want to fix problem gambling as much as the next guy. On the other hand, it's only common sense that they would want to repair their reputation first, as it would undermine their profit margins if they ignored this opportunity.
Day Time Advertising
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) always have a keen eye on the gambling industry. They have a keen eye on all industries that could be damaging to one's health (tobacco, alcohol, fast food, et cetera) so online gambling firms have to be careful. They can't make gambling seem too attractive in case it causes people to fall into addiction. This is why they are so strict on regulation even though, to us, some of the complaints might seem minuscule.
We believe it's no coincidence that this ASA complaint, which involves the aforementioned casinos came out days before they offered to support this campaign. However, their efforts may prove futile as organisations like the Department of Digital, Cultural, Media and Sport (DCMS) claim that the reason there has been a rise in problem gambling is because of an increased amount of advertising.
A Hidden Epidemic?
Tom Watson, a famous gambling cynic, even claimed that because of this increase that problem gambling is now a “hidden epidemic.” He then went on to say the accessibility of these ads is particularly troubling and the government should make efforts to quash it. An exaggeration? Yes. Yes, it is.
The ever-alarmist British media have taken the figure published by the UKGC last year of the amount of 16-years-and-over problem gamblers (0.8%) and compared it to 2012's figure (0.6%). This of course means we should all break into hysterics and riot in the streets! Oh, wait a minute… Statistics fluctuate year-by-year and aren't entirely reflective of reality? The government appears to have forgotten about that.
In any case, they should always look to reduce problem gambling, especially among minors. Yet, the call for a new campaign in light of this “epidemic” is a bit ridiculous. So, we're going to sit here and roll our eyes as the media loses its head over this non-issue.