Broadcasters have been urged to suspend all UEFA European Football Championship based gambling advertising for the duration of the tournament, by a group of over 60 survivors of gambling harm, MPs, and clinicians.
The open letter, organised by The Big Step, which forms part of the Gambling with Lives charity, has been sent to ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky Sports, BT Sport, TalkSport, Global Radio, Acast, and Stakhanov.
The letter reads: “Unfortunately, we all know too well how and where to put a bet on should we wish – suspending gambling advertising on TV would not affect this in the slightest.
“What it would do, is protect those most at risk of suffering gambling-related harm. Indeed, a recent study found that 54 per cent of those classed as ‘problem gamblers’ had spent money they weren’t previously intended to on gambling during the lockdown as a result of advertising.
“The tournament has been a long time coming and after a tough time for the country, fans should be able enjoy it without being on the end of gambling advertising, especially given the pressures of the pandemic.
“The last year has put the whole nation under significant strain, with anxiety, loneliness, and financial insecurity all rising, and we strongly believe that these factors contribute to increased risk of suffering gambling harms.”
Signatories include Carolyn Harris MP and Ronnie Cowan MP, chair and vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm as well as Paul Blomfield, Stuart McDonald and Mark Menzies MPs.
The letter is also backed by Christina Marriott, CEO of the Royal Society for Public Health and Louisa Mason, senior policy and communications executive at the Gambling Health Alliance.
James Grimes, founder of the Big Step, commented: “I founded the Big Step as a recovering gambling addict that was hooked in by football betting. I love the game passionately but we cannot let its damaging relationship with gambling advertising continue.
“Football has been a beacon of hope throughout the pandemic and the Euros will be a reason to celebrate as we hope the recovery continues. But they should not be a platform to promote addictive and harmful gambling products.”