University researchers, a columnist at The Times and a gentleman called Lord Chadlington have all had a pop at the betting industry during the past week.
Meanwhile, a leading operator is battling it out with the German government over the right to trade, France is considering privatising the national lottery and Sweden is mulling over a gaming revenue tax, while online sports betting is growing exponentially in Spain.
Here are the big stories of the week in gambling:
Alice Thomson used her column in The Times to rail against the proliferation of bookmaker ads on TV, online and on social media. She argued that problem gambling should start being treated like tobacco, alcohol or drug addiction, as a socially destructive habit that we don’t want our children to acquire. Read the column here. It has a paywall, but it is summarised by The Christian Institute.
Lord Chadlington backed up Thomson in a letter to The Times: “Some 95 per cent of TV advertising breaks during live UK football matches feature at least one gambling advert. The inevitable consequences of allowing this normalisation of gambling to go unchecked will be an increase in problem gamblers, mental health issues, financial distress and family breakdown.”
The anti-gambling lobby has been desperate to ridicule the minimum stake per spin of the virtual roulette wheel on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from £100 to £2. It looked to have persuaded government, but then the Gambling Commission recommended that it be capped instead at £30. Shares at Ladbrokes and William Hill soared. The increasingly desperate lobbyists are now trying to claim that FOBT betting costs the taxpayer £210 million a year, neglecting to mention that point of purchase gaming revenue boosts the Treasury’s coffers by far more than that. Read more at The Independent.
Gambling physically alters the structure of the brain and makes people more prone to depression and anxiety, said researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. The Telegraph reported on the news but it did not go to anyone in the betting industry or any of its trade bodies for a rebuttal, highlighting the anti-gambling sentiment sweeping through the media.
The German state of Baden-Württemberg has outlawed gambling, and 888 Holdings is fighting back. The 888 Sport operators argued that Germany’s Federal Administrative Court ruling violates its constitutional rights, as well as the rights the company has under EU law, including the right to offer its services. Read all about it at Casino Guardian.
The French Journal du Dimanche reported that the government is planning to sell off a 50% stake in the country’s national lottery amid a raft of privatisations. It is Europe’s second biggest lottery after Italy’s Lottomatica. Reuters rounds up the news.
Sweden is mulling over a bill called “a re-regulated gambling market”, which would offer players greater protection. There is also a new revenue tax on the table, which is detailed by Tax-News.
Atlantic City’s casino operators finally have something to celebrate after news broke that gaming revenue grew 5% in 2017 and profits were up 22.5%. It ended a prolonged downward spiral for the city’s operators. Press of Atlantic City has more on this. Meanwhile, states like Arizona, Minnesota and Maryland are all bidding to introduce legalised sports betting.
The fast-growing Spanish online betting market could soon be worth €1 billion a year, and experts predict plenty of room for growth in this booming sector. Online betting figures for 2017 show gross gaming revenue for sports and casino games rocketed to €560 million, driven largely by sports. Spanish outlet The Local has more.