Are aggressive online casino promotions normalizing gambling?
In times past, a woman in the workforce was unheard of in mainstream society. Over time, and especially instigated by during World War II, the need for more laborers saw a welcoming of female employees. Slowly the stigma faded into history. It became normal for women to work.
Similarly, gamblers have been ostracized for centuries. Among most societies, betting has always been seen as an act of ill repute. As such, many people either chose not to gamble for fear it would bring about shame. Others might only gamble on rare occasion. For those who did gamble regularly, if not frequently, it wasn’t something they spoke about in mixed company.
Times aren’t what they once were. We’ve tossed privacy to the wind in favor of blogs, vlogs and social media; sharing our everyday lives and experiences with anyone willing to watch or listen. The digital realm has taken society by storm. It’s giving us the freedom, and the carefree attitude, to do what we please, whenever we please.
Some might see that as a positive freeing of mind and spirit. Others see it as a path to imminent self-destruction. One of those ‘others’ is the UK Parliament’s Lord Chadlington.
Are Aggressive Online Casino Promotions Normalizing Gambling?
Lord Chadlington wrote a scathing editorial in Parliament’s Magazine, The House. Within, he condemns the UK’s gaming regulators for evolving laws to match the ever-changing times; in particular, for failing to increase funding for problem gambling as betting figures rise exponentially.
He blames the aggressive promotion of betting activities, particularly online, for a 550% increase in gambling revenue over the last ten years. Statistics are available to support this. And yet, regulators are not enforcing equally higher funding to NHS programs.
Statistics are steadily rising…
Lord Chadlington calls the statistics surrounding problem gambling and at-risk behavior “stark”. He notes there 430,000 adults in the UK who have a serious gambling problem. Only 2% of them are actively seeking treatment.
Another 2,000,000 display at-risk behavior conducive to addiction. He cites 55,000 children (age 11-14) are already compulsive gamblers, with another 75,000 at risk. Lastly, he notes the sobering statistic that an estimated 2 gambling-related suicides occur every working day.
Internet gambling is the nefarious villain in Lord Chadlington’s tale. He says remote betting (i.e. online casinos) generated £817m in 2009. The latest reports show iGaming accounting for £4.5bn (up 550%), or one-third of all gambling in the UK. Likewise, internet penetration into UK households has risen from 27% in 2005 to 95% today.
“Aggressive marketing online and offline – with a total spend by gambling companies on marketing of £1.5bn, a 56% increase since 2014 – is normalising gambling in the UK,” warns Lord Chadlington. He refers to all the rising statistics as “evidence…that we are in the grip of a gambling epidemic.”
With public concern at an all-time high, the conservative questions whether any time would be more appropriate for an increase in education and cessation materials, as well as prevention and treatment programs.
Online Gambling Operators Exhibit Willingness to Change
As 80% of UK residents believe gambling opportunities are far too high, and 71% regard it as being harmful to families, Lord Chadlington is heartened to find that the gambling industry itself is becoming “increasingly sensitive to public concerns”.
Many of today’s major operators are voluntarily adopting greater responsibility initiatives. Some are now contributing 0.2% of their GGR to problem gambling programs; twice that of the mandated (yet still voluntary) 0.1% contribution. Some are utilizing marketing advertisements to dissuade excessive gambling among players.
“This clearly demonstrates an appetite for change which should be harnessed positively,” says Lord Chadlington. But he adds, “There is still much more to be done.”
He would like to see the industry contributing more to fund NHS problem gambling programs. He wants more operators to exhibit greater responsibility in their online casino promotions; “in particular on television, with a view to protecting those who are most vulnerable – particularly children.”
Australia requires a 2% levy towards addiction programs. Italy prohibits all gambling advertisements, online or on land. Canada displays a wealth of responsible gambling information in all of its live and online casinos. These are the types of proven initiatives Lord Chadlington would like to see flourish in the UK.
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