Industry divided as government probes TV gambling ads

Betting brands such as Paddy Power under scrutiny for their advertising
Betting brands such as Paddy Power under scrutiny for their advertising

The government's proposal to investigate the impact of TV gambling ads is poised to sharply divide the ad industry after several agencies spoke out about the ethics of a "grubby category".

Earlier this week, culture secretary Karen Bradley confirmed that gambling spots would be examined as part of a review originally focused on fixed-odds betting terminals and other gaming machines. 

Claire Enders, chief executive of Enders Analysis, said a curb on daytime TV gambling ads "looks very serious and is directed from the highest levels" in government. She added that it was "definitely bad news" for broadcasters.

Bradley’s promise of an evidence-based review was welcomed by Ian Twinn, director of public affairs at ISBA. Twinn said gambling ads were a "legitimate concern" but the industry needed to advocate loudly for the contribution they make in allowing people to watch live sport. 

Sue Eustace, director of public affairs at the Advertising Association, added that recent reviews had concluded that "a growth in advertising isn’t affecting problem gambling – and there are significant restrictions already in place".

But Aimee Luther, managing director of BMB, said that betting brands had continually shown themselves to be "predatory and derogatory", and that her agency had vowed not to work with the category again.

Luther was backed by a chief executive at a major ad agency, who said: "If it was up to me, I’d ban them all – they only give our industry a bad name." Meanwhile, Phil Teer, chief strategy officer at Brothers and Sisters, said the industry needed to accept that "advertising legitimises behaviour".

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