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The Church of England’s Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has welcomed new moves to restrict advertisements for gambling-related products and services; but has warned that they do not go far enough. The new rules, drawn up by the Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) will be enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority throughout the UK. They prohibit online ads for gambling products being targeted at groups of individuals who are likely to be under 18; ban types of advertising content, including the use of animated characters and licensed characters from movies or television, and sportspeople and celebrities that are likely to be of particular appeal to children and youth culture; and prohibit the use in gambling ads of sportspersons, celebrities or other characters who are or appear to be under 25.
“While I welcome the proposals in this move, these new standards are, in fact, another lost opportunity in the fight against problem gambling,” Bishop Alan said. “With little consequences for companies flouting the rules and few teeth to enforce these new directives, the Committee of Advertising Practice needs to step-up their approach.
“With so many of the proposals relying on betting firms to self-regulate I sadly have little hope for major changes to the way gambling advertises. This endless barrage of adverts has normalised gambling and we now have 55,000 children who are problem gamblers and it is time for the gambling industry to take this issue seriously.”
Bishop Alan has tabled a motion for discussion at the Church of England’s General Synod on Saturday 23 February, calling on the government to “reduce the quantity and pervasiveness of gambling advertising and introduce a mandatory levy on gambling firms to fund independently commissioned research, education, and treatment programs”.
He said “it is our moral duty to protect young people from gambling-related harm and I hope the Committee of Advertising Practice will support my General Synod motion demanding tighter regulation around gambling advertising.”