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Bookmakers announce self-regulation plans

By Gareth Bracken
Four of Britain’s leading bookmakers have joined forces to create a self-regulatory body. William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Paddy Power have come together to form The Senet Group, an independent body which will impose tougher advertising standards on its members.

On 1 October the Group will implement a voluntary ban on advertising free bet and free money sign-up offers on TV before 9pm, while all gaming machine advertising will be withdrawn from betting shop windows. In addition, 20% of shop window advertising will be dedicated to responsible gambling messages.

The Senet Group, which will officially launch on 1 January and be headed by an independent Standards Commissioner, will also commit to funding a major new advertising campaign to educate people about responsible gambling in the new year, while also ensuring that all TV advertising carries more prominent responsible gambling messages.

Additionally, the body will carry out bespoke independent test purchasing to ensure that operators deliver on the new commitments and existing codes of practice. It will be able to “name and shame” or fine those operators found to be in breach.

The measures were announced in a full-page open letter published in the country’s leading national and regional newspapers on Monday. They will initially only apply to the four founding companies in the Group although other firms, including Betfred and Bet365, are reported as having been invited to join.

A spokesperson for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, an organisation which calls for tougher legislation regarding certain aspects of gambling, including fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) said: “The disclosure that the measures are designed to “improve public perceptions” rather than to protect the young and vulnerable demonstrates the motives behind this are PR alone.”

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