Sky TV, the UK television giant, confirmed recently its plans to reduce the number of gambling ads per commercial break by August of 2019.
Sky intends to reduce its allowance of gambling adverts to one per commercial break by August in 2019, in time for the impending Premier League season. The decision to make the change was announced during Responsible Gambling Week, a national campaign to advocate for safer gambling habits and practices.
New Season, New Policy
The current broadcasting standards in Britain allow for about four gambling ads per commercial break during live sports broadcasts. Gambling adverts are banned outside of live broadcasts before 9 pm.
Live game broadcasts also have a slew of promoted in-play betting odds during halftime of soccer and rugby matches. By this time next season, Sky will only be broadcasting a single gambling advert, with gambling including sports betting, online casinos, bingo, and poker.
Sky UK and Ireland CEO Stephen can Rooyen commented on the move as a way to help protect customers vulnerable to gambling problems, regardless of the likely hit that ad revenue will take.
"Our customers are worried about gambling ads on TV – and we understand their concerns. That’s why we’ve committed to limiting the amount of gambling ads on Sky and better protecting those vulnerable to problem gambling."
In addition, Sky is working on the development of their AdSmart technology, which would enable users to block gambling advertisements entirely on Sky and Virgin Media TV stations.
The goal is to help people self-exclude themselves from being temped into gambling if they’re aware that they have a problem. The current timeframe to launch AdSmart is June of 2020.
Pressure on Government Growing
Despite the growing gambling industry helping to generate significant tax revenue for the country’s government, the pressure on the government has been growing to better protect those who would be susceptible to gambling problems.
In the first week of November, former UK Sports Minster Tracey Crouch resigned her position to protest the government’s decision to delay the implementation of lowering the maximum stakes on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals until October of 2019. The original plan was to have the stakes lowered in April of next year, but will still carry through the plan of drastically lowering the maximum bet from £100 to £2.
To offset the projected losses in revenue, the government decided to raise the Remote Gaming Duty from 15% to 21%. However, offshore companies will get nearly a year’s reprieve from the 6% raise to prepare for the tax hike.
There is also a push for a full out ban on gambling ads being led by deputy Labour leader and shadow culture secretary Tom Watson.
"The reality is that in-game ads and ads during breaks in live sports can lead to dangerous betting behaviour or relapses for those who are trying to beat addiction. That’s why Labour remains committed to a full whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling adverts before, during and after live sports fixtures."
However, Sky TV’s move to limit gambling adverts is a step in the direction of helping prospective punters become more aware of how to gamble responsibly. In avoiding a blanket ban, Sky is moving toward giving consumers the tools they need to help themselves.