We think it’s pretty obvious that the UK loves to gamble. Sports betting, in particular, is extremely popular and with dozens of bookmakers on every high street, thousands of online casinos, and a weekly lottery draw, it’s all too easy for anyone to get involved.
However, with some recent rumblings in the news about controversies surrounding the UK sports betting industry, perhaps it isn’t so far-fetched to conclude that the British love sports betting a little too much.
Is the UK addicted to sports betting? If so, what can be done about it? Should anything be done about it? We have arguments on both sides
Sports Betting: The Stats
While no formal studies have been conducted, almost £14 billion was spent on the gambling industry as a whole in 2017 and after this year, we expect the number to climb even higher.
Among those spending money on gambling, there are also a few other, more troubling statistics:
- 430,000 are reported problem gamblers
- 25,000 are aged between 11 and 16
- 2 million are at risk of addiction
It’s not unreasonable to assume a large portion of that was a result of popularity in sports betting sites, especially during the Premier League. Indeed, Labour recently made a call to ban all sports betting ads during live sporting events if they win the next general election.
So, features like this bet365 TV ad would no longer be seen during live sporting events:
Labour’s Proposed Ban
In a recent article from The Guardian, Tom Watson (Labour’s Deputy Leader) shamed the government for neglecting the “epidemic” of gambling addicts in this country. He further outlined his views in a tweet he posted the same day:
Today I’ve announced the next Labour Govt will impose a “whistle to whistle” ban on betting ads during live sports broadcasts, outlaw debt-fuelled gambling with credit cards, and bring in a 1% levy on operators to pay for treatment of addicts. pic.twitter.com/HS1pPywuqz
— Tom Watson (@tom_watson) 20 September 2018
While many show support for Watson’s idea, others have asked precisely how this is supposed to help those with addictions.
At last! A decent, workable policy that is considered and relevant to today’s society… the ban on debt funded gambling is brilliant!! Seems so obvious. I don’t know why its not been done before now -more of these positive policies please @UKLabour
— Katey R (@katey_rusk) 20 September 2018
Tom, this is a wonderful initiative, but it needs to go even further. Those who can least afford to gamble are being targeted in their own homes through the invisible reach of ICT and ‘free bets’. The industry is built upon recruiting ‘losers’. #MentalHealthImplications pic.twitter.com/aNsNIQQ40l
— chocks away (@planeondaroof) 20 September 2018
We tend to agree that, although this could be a good start, there needs to be more of a plan involved here. After all, banning cigarette adverts have not killed nicotine addiction.
Other Proposed Bans
This wouldn’t be the first gambling-related ban proposed in the last year. Among shunning any sports betting advertisement, there are two other elements that have come under fire:
- Fixed Odds Betting Terminals: In May 2018, fixed odds machines were imposed with a restriction of a £2 maximum bet. Not precisely a ban but still a significant change to tackle problem gambling all the same.
- Credit Card Gambling: In March 2018, the UKGC has considered banning all credit-card based bets due to the fact problem gamblers can easily use them to gamble more than they can afford. Not to mention banking companies would be profiting off vulnerable people and that is severely unethical.
But do these bans actually work? While it’s too soon to tell, we can’t exactly say that they work 100% of the time.
Sports Betting: What Can Really Be Done
As much as we understand the desire to make things we find problematic illegal, doing so is often counter-intuitive. In the act of banning something, you’re making it seem much more glamorous to those tempted to try it out.
Not to mention it creates a whole new black market and that will cause a lot more harm than good.
So should we repeal laws and regulations purely because they make things look more tempting? Absolutely not. In relation to sports betting, banning adverts won’t make the problem go away.
Tom Watson and his team need to come up with a viable, long-term solution to problem gambling as a whole. They need to pour more money into helping those who are suffering recover from their addiction.
In short, slamming a permaban on things isn’t always the best way to go.
What Do You Think?
Do you think sports betting adverts should be banned? Do you even think the UK has a problem with sports betting? Let us know what you think in the comments below.