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Ladbrokes to launch advert dedicated to promoting responsible gambling

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Ladbrokes
maker Ladbrokes is to broadcast the UK's first TV advertisement dedicated to promoting responsible gambling.

The advert, which is part of the operator’s punter-focused "Ladbrokes Life" campaign and first airs on 16 May, comes amid public and parliamentary concerns around how to properly regulate and control the impact of a dynamic and rapidly growing industry.

The advertisement shows a character named Mr Brightside enjoying his night out despite losing a bet due to the decision of a linesman. It closes with the message: "Please Bet Responsibly" and doesn’t feature any promotional or sales messages.

Richard Glynn, Ladbrokes chief executive, said: "It is part of a package of awareness and self-help measures that customers value and appreciate.

"Most will recognise the message in the advertisement as something they already practice but we believe it is important to continue to promote responsible gambling to ensure people stay within their limits and don't take unnecessary risks."

The "Ladbrokes Life" campaign is a marketing revamp launched in April that hopes to distinguish the bookmaker from the rest by moving away from the sector's typical noisy and brash ads.

Ladbrokes say the advertisement follows a number of other new measures aimed at the promotion of responsible gambling. These include employing the Association of British Bookmaker's (ABB) code of player protection, introducing new set-limits software on machines and the retraining of staff to focus on player interaction.

In addition, Ladbrokes noted that it already dedicates 20% of its window space to the promotion of responsible gambling, runs in-shop responsible gambling adverts featuring former footballer Chris Kamara and earlier this year announced measures taken to promote responsible, such as establishing a committee of the firm's board to set responsible business benchmarks and linking executive pay to responsible gaming measures.

The announcement comes at a time of heavy criticism and new controls for the industry as both the public and government voice growing fears about fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) – dubbed the 'crack cocaine' of problem gambling – the clustering of betting shops on Britain's high streets and increasingly fewer opportunities for face-to-face interaction as electronic and virtual platforms take over.

A report released this month by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport details new steps to extend the Gambling Act (2005) and ensure it keeps pace with changes in the industry.

These include new powers for local authorities to limit the opening of new betting shops, new player protection measures relating to machines, education in responsible gambling and a review of advertising regulation based on evidence and recommendations from the Remote Gambling Association, the Committee of Advertising Practice, the Broadcast Committee of Advertising, The Advertising Standards Authority and the Gambling Commission by the end of 2014.

Gambling advertising has come under fire recently as former culture secretary Maria Miller, among others, criticised the "seemingly constant" nature of gambling adverts on the UK's screens and argued that children and other vulnerable people aren't sufficiently protected, with their exposure to advertisements being higher than ever before.

The DCMS report noted that some evidence suggests that gambling advertising "may maintain or exacerbate already existing gambling problems" and suggests the industry and its regulators consider whether the "tone, content and volume of gambling adverts is appropriate for general audiences and meets societal expectations".

It said this was especially relevant when adverts offer financial inducements or encourage in-play or other forms of instantly accessible online gambling.

As Glynn noted, with Ladbrokes to air bettor-focused adverts devoid of promotional or sales messages it seems the bookmaker is "focussed" on evolving its approach to promoting responsible gambling.

The "Ladbrokes Life" campaign marks a change of direction intended to set the bookmaker apart from competitors ̶ a move that could also aid the firm in light of the industry's recent negative portrayal in the press and parliament.

Adverts such as the one due to air on Friday work to show Ladbrokes as more trustworthy, responsible and accountable, and to help protect them from the condemnation directed towards the rest of the industry.

While Ladbrokes says its new advert is dedicated to promoting responsible gambling, it could therefore be argued that the new launch may provide the company with some additional benefits.

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