Gambling measures branded ‘cosmetic’

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Councillor Nick Small © Liverpool City Council

Councillor Nick Small © Liverpool City Council

New measures which are aimed at tackling the issues surrounding gambling have been described as “cosmetic” by a Liverpool councillor.

Four of the UK’s largest bookmakers have agreed to voluntary measures brought on by public concerns, as Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Coral and William Hill are to reduce their advertising in an attempt to cut children’s exposure to betting advertising and prevent further gambling problems.

However, Councillor Nick Small has hit out at the measures, claiming they do not go far enough.

He told JMU Journalism: “I feel the bookmakers are on the backfoot, with real momentum developing behind the call to ban fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

“The changes are largely cosmetic in order to try and show that they’re acting in accordance to what the public want.”

The main changes to be made on October 1st are a ban on advertising sign-up offers before 9pm on television, the withdrawal of advertising gaming machines in betting shop windows and dedicating 20% of window space to promoting responsible gambling.

The four companies have also created The Senet Group, which is a regulatory body headed by an independent standards commissioner.

The group will be responsible for monitoring compliance with the new measures set out and they will be able to “name and shame”, or fine gambling operators that don’t adhere to the rules.

Carl Leaver, CEO of Gala Coral Group, said: “The right to have a bet is an important freedom and must be balance by our responsibility to protect vulnerable people.”

The self-regulation is voluntary and has not been embraced by other gambling outlets, despite calls on others to get involved.

Cllr Small added: “With only four betting shops taking part, it’s a concern because shops like Betfred haven’t signed up nor have the independents. There’s also talk of amusement arcades introducing FOBTs. These changes won’t impact on the issues at hand.”

About James Tomlinson, JMU Journalism