Four UK Gambling Firms Propose Ad Self-Regulation
Four UK gambling firms with major brand recognition have announced that they have joined forces to address various public concerns regarding gambling advertising and availability in the UK. The four firms — Ladbrokes, William Hill, Paddy Power and Gala Coral — are among the largest serving the UK market.
The four companies have created a new independent body, to be called the Senet Group, which is designed to be an unofficial, independent Standards Commission which, in the words of a statement issued by the four companies, is designed to “hold the industry to account.”
Among the measures voluntarily committed to by the four companies are a ban on “sign-up” advertising before 9 p.m. (thus reducing its visibility to children), dedicating a fifth of window-front space at all physical gambling outlets to responsible-gambling messages, and funding a responsible-gambling ad campaign designed to increase consumer education and awareness.
News of the self-funded initiative leaked late on Sunday through several UK business outlets, though the full body of the statement and the announcement of the Senet Group’s creation was not available until today. To date, only the four founding firms are members of the Senet Group, which according to a PR statement takes its name from the ancient Egyptian game of chance.
A story released overnight by London’s Daily Mail linked the group’s creation to the new UK gambling measures coming into effect on October 1st as part of the UK’s revised Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act of 2014, stating that the move was designed to fend off further government regulation. In addition to the remote-gambling tax called for under the upcoming UK changes, the Act also calls for increased controls and taxes on physical gambling machines in betting shops, which the UK-‘s land-based betting operators stated could threaten to throw as many as 2,000 gambling shops across the country out of business.
Three of the four companies helping to found the Senet Group — Laddies, Bill Hill and Coral — are actually headquartered in Gibraltar and are members of the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (GBGA), which continues its legal challenge against other aspects of the Gambling Act. The fourth company, Paddy Power, is a famed Irish brand, and has suffered some image bruising in recent months, from the kerfuffle over its infamous “Mass Debater” ad to the rather more serious revelation that old account information related to hundreds of thousands of its players had been stolen.
The voluntarily concessions announced by the four companies are independent of the GBGA challenge, and the unofficial Senet Group oversight has just launched an online home, though it will not be fully functional until January.
The complete statement released jointly by the four gambling firms is as follows:
GAMBLING INDUSTRY RESPONDS TO PUBLIC CONCERNS
15 Sep 2014
The chief executives of Britain’s leading gambling companies have today joined forces to act on public concerns on gambling.
The companies – William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Paddy Power – are committing to:
- a voluntary ban on advertising sign-up offers (free bets and free money) on TV before 9pm, mindful of children and young people watching
- the withdrawal of all advertising of gaming machines from betting shop windows
- dedicating 20% of shop window advertising to responsible gambling messages
- These measures will come into force on 1 October 2014.
In addition, from January 1st, they will also commit to:
- the creation of a new independent body, The Senet Group, which will be headed by an independent Standards Commissioner to hold the industry to account
- fund a major new advertising campaign to educate people about responsible gambling
- all TV advertising carrying more prominent responsible gambling messages
- The Chief Executives announced the moves in a full-page open letter published today in the country’s leading national and regional newspapers.
The Senet Group, due to be fully up-and-running from January, will carry out bespoke independent test purchasing to ensure that the operators deliver on the commitments announced today and other codes of practice aimed at protecting the vulnerable. It will be able to “name and shame” or impose fines on operators in breach.
Its independent Standards Commissioner, who will head The Senet Group, will be appointed through a transparent process run on Nolan Principles.
The voluntary measures announced, which go beyond those required by the Government and regulators, will apply initially only to the four founding companies. But the chief executives are today inviting other gambling operators who have high standards in their commitment to responsible gambling to join them.
Richard Glynn, CEO Ladbrokes: “Gambling has long been a leisure pursuit and part of the cultural fabric of the UK, but we are alive to the concerns of the public to keep gambling a responsible and fun activity.”
James Henderson, CEO William Hill: “The launch of the Senet Group sets a benchmark by which we and the betting industry can be judged.”
Carl Leaver, Group CEO of Gala Coral: “Actions speak louder than words. That’s why the Senet Group will be given the independence, budget and purpose to hold the betting industry to account.”
Patrick Kennedy, CEO of Paddy Power: “Putting responsible gambling at the heart of our business is simply the right thing to do.”