The UK’s five biggest betting companies – Bet365, William Hill, Flutter Entertainment, GVC and Sky Bet – have pledged to voluntarily contribute of 1% their revenue to tackling problem gambling. The five operators wrote to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to announce the pledge. They proposed that the money should be used to combat addiction, provide treatment and facilitate research initiatives. The levy they pay currently stands at 0.1% and it raised £10 million in 2018. Upping it to 1% could bring in £100 million and that could help the UK Gambling Commission tackle staffing shortages. The industry fears it will soon end up treated like tobacco and alcohol, so it is taking pre-emptive measures in order to portray itself as a responsible, trusted government partner.
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has reiterated his commitment to overhauling the way the UK gambling industry is regulated. He said any future Labour government “must audit every existing regulator to ensure that they put the interest of consumers at the heart of what they do”. He wants to see a mandatory 1% levy on gross gaming yield slapped on all operators and he feels there is a need for a gambling ombudsman to protect British punters. He is the most vocal critic of the UK’s gambling industry, and while Labour remains in the opposition he is an influential figure in Westminster. Conservative Jeremy Wright, the Secretary of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Protecting people and their families from the risks of gambling-related harm is a priority for this government and I am encouraged that the sector now recognises that they need to do more.”
William Hill and Betfair have drawn a rebuke from the Advertising Standards Authority for advertising on an app aimed at children. The Loony Tunes World of Mayhem app had a PEGI rating of 7+ on the Google Play Store and the ASA said it would appeal to many under-18s. Yet William Hill, Betfair, LottoGo and Dunder ads featured on it. The ads were placed through an affiliate called Tapjoy, which is based in San Francisco, on behalf if the firms. Tapjoy has removed the ads, but William Hill was quick to part ways with the company. “On being made aware of this issue, we immediately ceased all activities with the affiliate. As a business, we take responsible marketing extremely seriously. We are currently conducting a full review of our ways of working with affiliates to ensure that such a situation is not repeated.”
Bet365 and Sky Bet refused to accept certain multiples on Frankie Dettori’s mounts at Royal Ascot as the Italian jockey was in such fine form. Dettori won the first four races on Gold Cup day and he almost landed the fifth, but his ride’s narrow defeat saved bookies from “a bloodbath”. “Frankie Dettori is the toast of the nation after an incredibly dramatic day at Royal Ascot,” said Nicola McGeady at Ladbrokes. “We are hugely relieved to have avoided the worst case scenario of a Magnificent Six [Dettori previously rode six winners on one day], but we are by no means celebrating. A four-timer for the most popular jockey at the biggest meeting of the Flat season is a shocking result and can only be described as a bloodbath.” Mark Pearson at Betfred added: “Frankie riding the first four and especially getting a tune out of Stradivarius in the big one was very costly. However every bookie is going to bed tonight relieved because if Frankie had done the unthinkable it would have been the biggest pay-out in bookmaking history.” Sky Bet responded by restricting multiples on Dettori’s higher priced rides on the final day. “Punters will not be able to place all those horses in trebles and upwards but it’s due to the sheer size of liabilities we have been accruing in previous days,” said spokesman Michael Shinners. Bet365 restricted five-folds on Detorri’s mounts.