Big Step extends call for gambling ad ban to England semi-final

The Big Step campaign has written to ITV bosses ahead of the UEFA 2020 European Championship semi-final clash between England and Denmark, calling for no gambling advertising to be shown.

Citing the fact that it is estimated that over 20 million people across the UK watch the England national team, including many children, the campaign – an initiative of the Gambling with Lives group and lead individuals with lived experience of gambling-related harm – has requested ITV ‘not to broadcast a single gambling advert during their coverage’.

The letter read: “We have been disappointed to see gambling advertising during ITV’s coverage of the European Championships. The promotion of addictive products will undoubtedly have caused gambling-related harms and as a charity supporting bereaved families, we know all too well the devastating damage that gambling can cause every day. We can only hope that ITV changes its position on this to prevent further suffering for many families up and down the county.

“Despite the incessant promotion of gambling, England’s progress in the tournament has brought the country together. Like everybody, we are looking forward to seeing the team take on Denmark on Wednesday night, which is to be broadcast on ITV.”

Two months ago, The Big Step wrote to a range of television, radio and online media outlets – including ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky Sports, BT Sport, TalkSPORT, Global Radio, Acast and Stakhanovcalling for a suspension of gambling advertising during the tournament.

Signatories to the campaign’s letter include survivors of gambling-related harm as well as Carolyn Harris MP and Ronnie Cowan MP, the Chair and Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm (GRH APPG).

Cowan later reiterated his argument in June, requesting that ITV temporarily place gambling advertisements on hold. Prior to the tournament’s kick-off, the board of ITV promised MPs that the broadcaster had significantly lowered its betting advertising coverage in comparison with previous tournaments.

ITV underscored that its football coverage observed a whistle-to-whistle advertising ban on betting content, and that gambling adverts could only be reserved for the ad-breaks of 8pm matches.

The Big Step Campaign’s latest message to the media outlet follows England’s 4-0 victory over Ukraine in the quarter-final, watched by an audience of 20.9 million – an 81.8% share of all viewers at the time and marking the most-watched live television event of 2021 so far on the BBC.

“Given that nearly 21 million people watched England vs Ukraine on Saturday, it is no exaggeration to state that millions of children will be tuning in to see their heroes before, during and after this semi-final,” the Big Step’s letter continued.

“Therefore we are requesting that ITV suspend gambling advertising for the duration of the broadcast of England v Denmark on 7 July, and not just within the whistle-to-whistle timeframe.

“There is no excuse to show a single gambling advert in front of the whole country, especially when there will be such a young and susceptible audience viewing.”

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