Sky Bet CEO argues against Labour's gambling plans

By Tim Poole

Sky Betting and Gaming (SBG) CEO Richard Flint has opposed the Labour Party’s proposals to ban gambling advertising during live sporting events and credit-card betting within the UK.

Labour has this week concluded its year-long review into gambling regulations and Deputy Leader Tom Watson believes further regulation is required in tackling the country's “hidden epidemic” of problem gambling.

The Italian government has recently decided to ban all gambling advertising and Watson has advised a BBC Radio programme that he wants similar action, albeit not as wide ranging.

Flint, however, believes such a ban would disincentivise legitimate operators from entering the UK market, fearing this would leave customers more vulnerable to disreputable operators.

Warning signs of this effect can be seen in Italy, where Facebook and Google have said unlicensed bookmakers have appeared at the top of their customer search lists.

On a potential credit card ban, Flint also advised more attention being placed on gamblers at risk, rather than a complete ban.

The SBG CEO is quoted as saying by the BBC: “We'll study the advertising proposals carefully, but think any type of blanket ban removes a key incentive for operators to get a UK gambling licence and therefore could leave UK customers more vulnerable to disreputable operators.

“And our data on credit cards suggests that it is those customers with multiple cards that are at greater risk of harm so we believe attention should be placed on that rather than a complete ban.”

Labour had initially called for a ban on gambling advertising during live sporting events, with Watson telling BBC Today: "We're not anti-gambling. We just think we need to tighten up regulations because there has been a digital revolution in these new products since the last piece of legislation.”


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