Sky UK CEO Stephen van Rooyen has declared that banning betting ads from live TV sport is not an answer when it comes to curbing out of control gambling.
He has criticised the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) – which represents online bookies including Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and bet365, for its plan to voluntarily pull ads from all live TV sport that starts ahead of the 9pm watershed.
In an op-ed in the Times, van Rooyen states that ‘the inconvenient truth’ is that 80%+ of gambling ads appear online – where they are completely unregulated; he says research shows the amount spent online promoting gambling has trebled in the last three years . “If the RGA are serious about protecting vulnerable gamblers, then they should start by looking at where they spend the most money, what has the least level of regulation and where there is most evidence of harm: the online world.”
The RGA has responded that reports of an agreed compete ban are premature.
Van Rooyen claimed his views were not simply about a broadcaster scared of losing ad revenue, pointing out that Sky has already limited to one the number of gambling ads in any commercial break.
Van Rooyen said that pulling TV advertising would simply shift advertising “even further online” enabling targeting of the vulnerable via smartphones, tablets and computers. He also pointed out that it would deprive a broadcaster of ad revenue diverting that revenue to gambling firms and online companies that have a tendency to avoid tax.