My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I immediately declare what may be perceived as a conflict of interest, in that one of my children is head of policy for Google in the UK.
The genesis of requesting this debate today was a summer of wonderful sport on television. However, every commercial break seemed dominated by gambling advertisements. As I watched sports that my extended family love, I found myself asking several questions. Are these commercials really what I want youngsters to see, seated around my TV set in the security and privacy of my home? Are they going to make these young people more responsible adults? Are they being encouraged to believe that gambling is a normal part of everyday life and something to which they should aspire? Are the warnings about the risks of gambling clear, strong and unambiguous?’
I obviously have the highest possible regard for the advertising industry, which I believe is an immensely positive and powerful tool that contributes significantly to the good of our society, so, in moving this Motion, I imply no criticism of the advertising industry or its regulators. I simply ask: do we know enough about the effects of the welter of gambling promotion on TV and online to which children are now subjected, and is there more we could do as a society to protect them from it? In the light of the Government gambling review due this autumn, this seems an appropriate moment to ask these questions.
I am pleased to say that I am not alone in these concerns. Mr Philip Bowcock, chief executive of William Hill, said at the firm’s 2017 half-year presentation:
“My personal view is that there is too much gambling advertising on TV”.
“I have teenage children and we are sympathetic to some sort of curb or some sort of review around the level of advertising”.
“My children can recite just about every gambling ad there is”.
Some of these worries are clearly shared by a majority of the UK public. According to research from the Gambling Commission, 69% of people in the UK think betting is dangerous for family life and 78% fear there are too many opportunities to do it. Indeed, the members of public who think the practice should be actively discouraged has risen from 36% in 2010 to 55% in 2016.