Now that many soccer leagues have been cancelled because of Corona, gambling offices are opening their doors again. Finally, after the British government decided not to open casinos in July. And that involves a risk, says Claire Murdoch, director of mental health at the English National Health Service.
No excuse for addiction
The return of soccer is an exciting moment for millions of people, but it shouldn’t be an excuse for gambling houses to open the floodgates of addiction,” she says in The Guardian. That’s why she warns gambling offices not to run ‘reckless’ advertising campaigns that encourage problematic gambling.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Health Service (NHS) has already had its hands full and now it can’t reach problem gamblers. Murdoch believes that this is ‘avoidable damage’ and she places some of the responsibility for this with the marketing strategy that the gambling offices are using these days.
More specialist help needed
At the NHS, we see more and more people needing specialist help after they have fallen victim to excessive and aggressive marketing by gambling firms. What we don’t want to see are gambling firms trying to make up for lost time with aggressive advertising campaigns’.
Online gambling on smartphones
Murdoch is particularly concerned about online marketing, especially on smartphones, where people with an account can bet quickly during matches. So in January, she wrote to Bet365, Betfred, GVC Holdings, Flutter Entertainment and William Hill, questioning some of their practices. She also said that there is ‘a clear and worrisome link between gambling and mental health problems’.
Michael Dugher is the managing director of the Betting and Gaming Council representing the gambling industry. He immediately went on the defensive. ‘Rather than making headlines with her deliberately explosive media interventions, Claire would do better to take up our January offer to talk about her concerns’, he said.