BBC Panorama reports rise in complaints to UK bookmakers

According to a BBC Panorama documentary due to air tonight, UK Gambling Commission statistics have reported a 5,000 per cent rise in the number of complaints made about UK bookmakers over the last five years. 

The Panorama investigation, Addicted to Gambling, will be hosted by Bronagh Munro, and will be broadcast at 8.30pm on BBC1 on Monday.

The UKGC figures had shown 8,266 complaints had been made to the industry regulator in 2018, a figure significantly higher than the 169 complaints made in 2013.

Citing ‘a number of complex reasons’ as an explanation for the rise, chief executive of the UKGC Neil McArthur explained: “We’re pushing the industry to know its customers, and part of this is actually, possibly, a good sign because it’s suggesting that consumers are demanding more of the gambling operators. And I would encourage them to continue to do that.”

In the documentary, McArthur addresses some of the associated complexities with defining problem gambling as a mental health problem, as well as some of the challenges posed through regulating the industry. 

Stories linked to problem gambling behaviours, such as that of Daniel Clinkscales, will be addressed in the broadcast in which Clinkscales’ mother Jo Holloway calls upon industry leaders to bear the burden of responsibility in tackling compulsive gambling should lie with the industry.

The gambling industry has sought to address concerns relating to social responsibility, however, following the roll-out of new initiatives. These have included an industry-wide voluntary ban on sports advertising for pre-watershed broadcasts, an increase in ‘voluntary contributions to 1% of gross-gaming-yield revenues’. 

The industry has continued to grow rapidly following the government relaxed restrictions on betting and advertising in 2007.

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