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Advertising of gambling and tobacco products should not have the same requirements

Sometimes, even economically developed Western countries face attempts to regulate the business. However, such initiatives by an individual party or government lobbyists are usually disguised as a “response to public demand.”

The gambling market, the development of which during the two years of the pandemic confuses representatives of other entertainment industry sectors, one of which is gambling, is not an exception to the rule.

For instance, in Great Britain, where gambling has been legalized for a long time and is regulated by the State quite tightly, legal gambling is constantly attacked by the so-called Anti-gambling prohibitionists. Since 2020, local activists have come up with a new way to attack the gambling market, raising the issue in the media about additional regulation of gambling advertising by applying to it the same rules they apply to the advertising of tobacco products.

However, an obstacle to the “wishlist” of anti-gambling activists is... the public opinion that is regularly studied in the UK by various specialized business associations, independently or by well-known sociological or marketing companies.

For example, this autumn, the country’s largest specialized gambling association, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), conducted a study. According to this study, 71% of respondents noted that if tobacco industry advertising restrictions are used for gambling, it would be ineffective.

At the same time, almost half of respondents (47%) believe that banning popular promotions such as “free bets” will also not improve problematic gambling indicators. Only 3% of respondents believe mandatory health warnings on betting products to be highly effective. And only 8% believe that a ban on free betting would be “highly effective in preventing gambling addiction.”

Is it enough or too much? It should be noted that every year, about 22.5 million British adults (this is almost 33% of the total British population and about 50% of the adult population over the age of 21) buy lottery tickets, play bingo, make bets in casinos, use bookmaker services, and/or gamble online. Only 0.3% of sociological poll respondents see themselves as active “fighters” against legal gambling.

Analysing poll results, BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher noted: “Problem gambling rates in the UK are low and have fallen, but still the anti-gambling lobby – prohibitionists who just want to ban things – are pushing for draconian measures. 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. Anti-gambling prohibitionists are determined to treat betting like tobacco and to treat punters like smokers – but these two things are worlds apart and should be regulated entirely differently.”

Let me remind you that the ban on legal gambling in Ukraine in 2009 not only led to the existence of the black market in the country for more than 11 years, but made the State lose tens of billions of hryvnias in tax revenues and face increasing crime rates and participation of children and teenagers in gambling. It is exactly what the activists’ actions may cause if power decisions are made based on them. One should understand that almost all such activists, regardless of the country where they oppose legal gambling, are black market lobbyists receiving money from illegal business.


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