Sky to cut number of gambling ads screened during sport
SKY will dramatically cut the number of gambling advertisements it shows amid rising concern over addiction and the prominence of betting in sport.
The pay-TV giant will impose a limit of one gambling advertisement per commercial break on its channels from the start of the next Premier League season in August. At present, up to four betting promotions are shown during each commercial break, with slots during live matches on Sky Sports in high demand to attract “in play” betting.
The restrictions will apply to all channels for which Sky sells advertising slots, including Channel 5, which is owned by Viacom, the US media group. All forms of gambling, including bingo and online poker, will be covered.
The move will add to pressure on the gambling industry, which already faces a government crackdown on lucrative fixed-odds betting terminals. Tracey Crouch, the sports minister, resigned last week over a delay in plans to slash the maximum stake allowed by such machines from £100 to £2.
Self-imposed restrictions are expected to cost Sky tens of millions of pounds in annual revenue. Gambling accounts for about £200million per year in television advertising sales, and Sky is thought to control nearly half of the market. The full impact is difficult to assess, partly because advertising slots on Sky Sports are auctioned, so prices may rise when supply is curtailed.
From 2020, Sky will allow viewers to exclude gambling from commercial breaks entirely. Technology built into set-top boxes will insert alternative advertising in its place. Sky, which is owned by Comcast, the vast US media group, is voluntarily restricting gambling advertising amid calls for new regulatory measures.
Betting companies, including the owner of Ladbrokes, have called for a ban on television advertising before 9pm. It would save them tens of millions of pounds and give high street operators a boost over online-only rivals such as Bet365 and Betfair.
The industry has ploughed money into advertising since the Labour government scrapped strict rules in 2007. According to Nielsen, the market research company, the industry spent a total of £1.4billion on advertising between 2012 and 2017. Of that, £430million was spent to promote sports gambling.