Good deeds: Why the bookmakers will never win

Bookmakers are the devil. Well, that is what you’d believe if you opened up a tabloid newspaper.

uk bet

But on Wednesday, leading UK bookmakers announced they would be providing 1% of profits to help tackle problem gambling, up from 0.1%.

William Hill, Ladbrokes Coral (owned by GVC Holdings), Flutter Entertainment (previously known as Paddy Power Betfair), Stars Group-owned Sky Betting & Gaming and Bet365 have all announced they are willing to do more.

This would take their total contribution based on current figures from £10m to £90m, which will be used not only to help those with gambling problems, but to teach individuals about gambling to make them more aware of the industry.

As mentioned in the GI Huddle’s football shirt sponsorship debate, anything bookmakers do in an attempt to offer prizes to players is often twisted.

Rewarding players with free bets is a way of 'luring people into betting more,' or hosting a competition offering season tickets is 'forcing an individual to a football ground plastered in betting sponsorship.'

It’s madness, really. I’m pretty sure half the people complaining wouldn’t be moaning if they were the ones to have won the tickets.

Many operators now sponsor football teams in the English Premier League and Championship, which are two of the most supported leagues in the world. They are not obliged to hand out gifts or rewards to fans of those clubs, but choose to do so.

Whether this is to increase their profile or not, they certainly aren’t the first company to try this strategy. I, for one, entered many BetBright competitions last season hoping to watch Nottingham Forest in a corporate box. Why? Because I wanted to watch my team in a way I normally wouldn’t be able to afford on a weekly basis. I wanted to experience the VIP treatment, not bet on the match.

It’s worth remembering Ian Paisley, a Member of the UK Parliament, called the gambling industry “a plague on many families,” before accepting a £1,000 matchday hospitality experience from William Hill. Let’s be honest, he’s probably not the only MP to have accepted such a gift. It almost appears to be those who are missing out are the ones quick to turn around and slam the industry.

The William Hill Foundation launched a partnership with Alzheimer’s Society in May, as the operator continued its charity work to give something back. I can safely say you can count the number of stories reported from this by B2C publications on one hand. Are the press being stubborn with their opinion on the industry? It certainly appears that way.

Surprisingly, I have yet to spot a negative article surrounding the extra funds being provided to those who may suffer from a gambling addiction. But this hasn’t stopped the negative comments flooding in on the BBC’s article.

One individual described the gambling industry “like one of those toy grabbing machines, purposely coded only to grab the toy one time in every 30 or so.” Another stated “gambling is a scourge on society. Punters never win and always families lose.”

It’s a constant lose-lose situation for the bookmakers. They either aren’t doing enough, or they increase support but still “shouldn’t exist.”

Next it’ll be 1% isn’t good enough and “why should it take five years to address” is thrown at the bookmakers.

You simply can’t please everyone, especially within the gambling industry. But from time to time, operators do their bit and maybe, just maybe, this should be acknowledged in a positive manner.

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