A viral social media campaign featuring football experts from the BBC and ITV has been accused of normalizing youth betting and encouraging problem gambling during the Euro 2020 tournament.
Sky Bet launched a video series last week featuring BBC Euro 2020 expert Micah Richards and ITV Euro 2020 expert Roy Keane on a joke-packed road trip to Wembley. The five Sky Bet branded videos have so far amassed more than 6 million views on the company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, which also include posts offering free initial bets on the competition’s top scorer and prizes. at the Sky Bet online casino.
Sky Bet social media channels also shared a signature interview with England captain Harry Kane by fellow ITV Euro 2020 expert Gary Neville. He joins Richards and Keane on their road trip to Wembley in the latest video from the betting brand, where the trio discuss England’s chances and who will be Euro 2020’s top scorer.
While the gaming industry has agreed to a voluntary “whistle-to-whistle” ban on TV commercials shown at live sporting events before 9 p.m., there is no such restriction on digital promotion, which represents 80% of advertising spending on gambling.
the Observer established that ITV’s Twitter accounts, which have more than 2.2 million subscribers, will display Euro 2020 goal highlights throughout live matches bearing the logo of a gaming company in ‘silver.
Research by Ipsos Mori and two university teams on the impact of gambling advertising on vulnerable youth and adults highlights the use of celebrity endorsement, humor and fun to promote a harmless and light game image.
The study, which was carried out on behalf of the GambleAware charity last year, found that exposure to betting promotions made young people more likely to gamble.
There are 55,000 children with harmful gambling in the UK, according to the Gambling Commission. There are 300,000 adult problem gamblers and 440,000 risk gamblers. Gaming industry makes 60% of its profits come from these compulsive and risk gamblers, whose addiction can ruin families and harm communities. Betting is estimated to cost society up to £ 1.2bn per year in terms of its effects on health, employment and the criminal justice system.
Matt Zarb-Cousin, the founder of Clean up Gambling, said gambling companies produce and sponsor highly shareable online content that needs to reach a wider audience, including children. “There is a very good chance that those under the age of 18 will be exposed to gambling brands through these viral videos,” he said. “The kids will know these experts and so it will standardize the game for a younger generation.”
The betting industry, he added, was using Euro 2020 to gain new customers for its most profitable products, such as casino games and online slots, which represent half of the profits from online gambling.
“Football has a very small margin for operators,” he said. “They try to attract new customers with soccer betting and then cross sell the more addicting products like online slots, which have no limits on the stakes. This is where the industry makes its money.
ITV came under criticism last week for not dropping pre- and post-live gambling ads, including the England-Scotland clash on Friday. This is now likely to grow, as the channel’s social media highlights throughout the competition will bear the logo of a gambling company.
MP Carolyn Harris, chair of the multi-stakeholder group on gambling damage, said she was disappointed with ITV.
“It’s absolutely soul-destroying because players aren’t just losing their livelihoods, homes and families – in many cases people are losing their lives,” she said. “ITV allows game companies to develop addiction. It is reprehensible. “
She added that Keane, Richards and Neville are expected to encounter problem gamblers. “If they knew about the damage the game has caused, I would like to think they would be okay with it,” she said.
“They are all respected and have a high profile. Their presence normalizes gambling for those who haven’t gambled, and gives permission for those with a disorderly gambling problem to do something that destroys their lives.
The close relationship between the game and football is under consideration, with ministers considering stricter regulations. Eight Premier League clubs have started the season with logos of gambling companies on the front of their shirts.
BBC Euro 2020 host and former England striker Gary Lineker has spoken out against the growing influence of betting companies. Last season he took to social media to criticize clubs, including Leicester and Arsenal, for promoting the game.
Sky Bet said: “Safer play is of critical importance to Sky Bet. As sports fans around the world celebrate the start of Euro 2020, we will continue to put the safety of our customers at the heart of everything we do. “
ITV said it takes its responsibility to viewers very seriously. He said the amount of gambling ads related to live streaming of Euro football matches would be significantly reduced compared to the 2018 World Cup.
“The majority of games ITV plans to broadcast live kick off at 2 or 5 and will not have play announcements under the ‘whistle-to-whistle’ ban. The rest [which all have an 8pm kick-off] will not have game announcements in commercial breaks before kick-off or at halftime, ”said a spokesperson for the broadcaster.
The BBC, Micah Richards, Gary Neville and Roy Keane were all approached for comment.