Sky CEO sees flaw in RGA plans for whistle-to-whistle advertising ban

By Tim Poole

Sky UK & Ireland CEO Stephen van Rooyen has criticised the Remote Gambling Association’s (RGA) plans for a whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling advertising during sporting events.

Last week, Gambling Insider reported the RGA had discussed – but not yet agreed – a voluntary ban on advertising during events such as football matches.

Research from Harris Interactive sent to Gambling Insider on Friday showed 81% of the UK public would approve of the prohibition.

However, Van Rooyen believes the RGA’s suggestion would distract from the "inconvenient truth" that over 80% of gambling advertising takes place online.     

He wrote in The Times: "You could be forgiven for thinking this sounds a reasonable plan. The truth is the facts paint a very different picture.

"What the RGA has failed to address is the inconvenient truth that over 80 per cent of the gambling industry’s advertising is in the largely unregulated online world.

"If the RGA and gambling companies are serious about protecting vulnerable gamblers, they should start by looking at where they spend the most money, what has the least level of regulation and where there is most evidence of harm: the online world."

Considering the source – a television broadcaster set to miss out on advertising revenue – Van Rooyen felt the need to address the potential accusation of bias.

He added: "These aren’t the views of a broadcaster scared of losing TV ad revenue; quite the opposite.

"Last month we voluntarily agreed to limit the number of gambling ads to one per commercial break. And we’re using our AdSmart technology to enable people to block gambling advertising if they wish. As a result, there will of course be some financial impact to Sky, but a proportionate and responsible limit to gambling advertising is the right thing to do."

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