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Survey says compulsory warning labels won't help tackle problem gambling

3 min. read

A Stay Safe sign on the ground.

The Betting and Gaming Council has looked into a proposal to raise awareness about the potential harm of gambling products by featuring compulsory messages that gambling can be harmful. The proposal is based on similar messaging used in other sin industries, such as alcohol and tobacco, and builds on the premise that consumers would be less inclined to purchase harmful products and services.

However, a new survey commissioned by the Betting and Gaming Council and conducted by YouGov has indicated that these messages may not be very efficient if at all. Consumers would not feel inclined to play or gamble less just because a message says so, the advocacy group argues in an official press release. Only three percent of all people interviewed by YouGov said that the introduction of such health warnings would result in a positive impact and be a real deterrent to harmful behavior.

The Betting and Gaming Council has insisted that only 0.3% of the adult population has a gambling problem, which is down from the 0.4% reported in the previous reporting period. According to the group, this is owing to the use of the right consumer protection tools, but warning messages are not one of them, the Betting and Gaming Council insists.

The survey also looked into the matter of free bets, and whether the public felt inclined to back a ban on these promotional inducements. 47% of respondents said that they did not feel that banning free bets would actually help tackle problem gambling.

Despite the Council’s numbers, though, there are jurisdictions that are becoming more serious about limiting the spreading of advertisements. Australia is now looking to roll in precisely the same health warning conditions, such as "You win some. You lose more" to indicate the harm of gambling that is often ignored. Australians are also favoring the prohibition of gambling advertisements – more so than the ads run by the tobacco and petrol companies.

Michael Dugher, Betting and Gaming Council CEO, commented on the results. Dugher insisted that problem gambling rates were in decline, but this has not come with the help of draconian measures, he cautioned. He also insisted that when misplaced, prohibitions may have an adverse impact:

"Measures like these, however well-meaning, will only serve to drive punters from the regulated sector to the unsafe, unregulated gambling black market where the numbers betting have doubled in recent years and the amount staked is in the billions."

While Dugher has a point that unsubstantiated overreaching regulation can do more harm than it does good, he also misses an important point – a health warning message is hardly a prohibition, but rather a reminder. Dugher did add that Betting and Gaming Council members also support more than 100,000 UK jobs and have been contributing a pretty penny to the industry.

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08 Dec 2022
3 min. read
Comments (1)
1 month ago

Do you think seeing a warning label would make you think differently about gambling?