Labour plans to outlaw in-play betting ads, with a “whistle-to-whistle” ban on TV and online gambling promotions during live sport events.
The proposal forms part of a radical overhaul of gambling regulation unveiled by deputy leader Tom Watson following a year-long review.
Branding problem gambling “a public health emergency”, Mr Watson said that Labour’s next manifesto will include the ban, as well as proposals for:
n A ban on credit card betting;
n Increased resources for research into and treatment of gambling addiction, funded in part from a compulsory 1 per cent levy on operators’ gross gambling yield;
n New rules to allow addicts to tell their banks to block online gambling transactions.
He also repeated Labour’s call for Premier League football clubs to end sponsorship deals with gambling firms, and pledged legislation if they do not act voluntarily.
In-play betting has become an increasingly prominent part of the gambling scene in recent years, with TV ads in the run-up to games and during half-time urging punters to place wagers on the next goalscorer or the final result.
Labour’s review uncovered concerns that, with instant online betting now widely available via smartphones, the ads may present a risk to gambling addicts, young people and those with mental health problems.
Research by Goldsmiths University’s Professor Rebecca Cassidy estimated that gambling advertising increased six-fold between 2007 and 2013. And recent analysis found that 17 per cent of all adverts during the football World Cup in Russia were for gambling.
Mr Watson said: “Problem gambling is Britain’s hidden epidemic and we must treat it as a public health emergency.
“Current gambling regulation is not up to the job of protecting addicts and those at risk of addiction.”
But the chief executive of the Advertising Association, Stephen Woodford, said that Labour’s whistle-to-whistle plan went against the findings of a Gambling Commission report in 2017.
Chris Skidmore, the Conservative’s vice chairman for policy, said: “Labour liberalised the gambling market when they were in power, and have admitted that they were wrong.
“We are correcting Labour’s mistakes – ensuring tighter rules on gambling advertising, increasing protections around online gambling, launching a multi-million pound awareness campaign, commissioning research on the harms of problem gambling, and slashing the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals.”