StopBettingAds.com encourages Christians to respond to a public consultation of the government, “explaining the damage that gambling related marketing has on communities across the UK”.
The United Kingdom government is reviewing the Gambling Act 2005, which is the basis for all regulation of gambling in the country, including how betting companies are allowed to advertise.
It aims to “look at whether our regulatory framework is effective and whether further protections are needed”. To do this, the authorities have opened a public consultation of 45 questions, to gather evidences about different topics related to gambling.
One of the main topics is betting advertising. Nowadays, nearly three quarters of the football Premier League and Championship clubs have a commercial relationship with a betting company, either through shirt sponsorship or endorsement.
The Gambling Act 2005 allowed all betting companies to advertise all forms of gambling in any media like any other product. According to the government statistics, 87% of adults and 69% of young people saw or heard gambling advertisements and/or sponsorships in 2019.
British Christian groups have joined together to call on he government “to stop all advertising, sponsorship and preferred commercial relationships from gambling companies in sport”.
[photo_footer] Logo of the site StopBettingAds.com
They have launched the campaign Stopbettingads.com, “urging Christians to take part in the government's review and explain the damage that gambling, and gambling related marketing, has on communities across Great Britain”.
“The church has a role to speak out on moral issues that affect our society and by stopping gambling advertising in sport we can help protect vulnerable people and stop the normalisation of gambling in sport”, point out the authors of the campaign.
StopBettingAds denounces that nearly 20% of people with a gambling problem have considered suicide, and they are around eight times more likely to have attempted to do it than the general population.
The campaign encourages Christians to specially respond to questions 11 and 15 of the consultation, which are related to gambling advertising, sharing “any stories or evidence you have of how gambling has negatively impacted your local community, whether that’s through addiction, debt, family break down or mental health challenges”.
“This is a vital opportunity to have your voice heard. […] By limiting access to gambling and by removing advertising the government can help to save lives”, they stress.
According to Danny Webster, head of advocacy of the Evangelical Alliance UK, the campaign “wants to see gambling regulated in a way that protects young people and the most vulnerable, and by taking a tough approach to the marketing and advertising practices of gambling companies the government can show they are serious about this”.
“Gambling addiction is a severe problem in our society, and the official body providing advice on safer gambling recognises that gambling is a public health issue”, adds Webster.
Andy Frost, one of the founders of the campaign, and director of Share Jesus International, warns about the risk of advertising betting as harmless fun, because “futures are being severed and legislation must step in to prevent further lives from being lost”.
“This is an excellent initiative and I'd like to encourage Christians across the country to add their voices to those concerned about the level of gambling advertising in sport. We must all do our part in protecting young people from gambling harms”, underlines the Bishop of St Albans, Alan Smith.