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The Guardian Takes a Firm Stand: Implements Global Ban on Gambling Advertising


The Guardian Takes A Firm Stand: Implements Global Ban On Gambling Advertising

The Guardian, one of the world's foremost media groups, has made a resolute announcement to enforce a worldwide ban on gambling advertising across all its online and print platforms.


The decision stems from the ethical standpoint that accepting money from services that can lead to "addiction and financial ruin" is fundamentally wrong.


Anna Bateson, the Chief Executive of Guardian Media Group, emphasized the potential dangers of advertising, particularly online, which can ensnare gamblers in an "addictive cycle." She highlighted the adverse impact on individuals' financial well-being, mental health, and broader societal issues. The Guardian's journalists have played a crucial role in reporting on the devastating consequences of the gambling industry in the UK and Australia, successfully raising awareness and keeping the issue at the forefront of public discourse. Research studies have also shown a clear correlation between exposure to gambling advertising and an increased propensity for regular gambling.


Bateson expressed specific concern over how bookmakers utilize targeted online advertisements to entice individual gamblers. She stated, "Ultimately, we believe that our primary obligation is to do what is right for our readers, which is why we have decided to explore alternative methods of revenue generation.


The ban encompasses all forms of gambling advertising, including promotions for sports betting, online casinos, and scratch cards. It will be applied globally to all of the company's online and print outlets, including the Guardian, Observer, and Guardian Weekly. However, lottery advertising has been excluded from the ban, as it serves social benefits through raising funds for good causes and usually involves "non-instantaneous draws."


It is noteworthy that The Guardian had already implemented a ban on adverts from fossil fuel companies since 2020.


The decision to exclude gambling advertising from The Guardian's publications comes in response to the rapid growth of online betting on sporting events, facilitated by deregulation and the significant increase in smartphone users. The United States has recently embraced online sports betting, following the lead of Australia and the UK, where gambling has experienced a surge in popularity over the past decade.


Gambling companies spend considerable amounts on advertising to attract new customers and entice existing ones to engage in further gambling, as their profits rely on sustained activity.


Many media outlets are becoming increasingly dependent on funding from betting companies. British television channels have acknowledged that their business models are increasingly reliant on advertising from bookmakers. Meanwhile, TikTok is testing gambling advertising in Australia, and the US outlet Barstool Sports was completely acquired by a casino group.


Public sentiment and prominent journalists are expressing growing discomfort with this approach, particularly as other countries are implementing outright bans on gambling advertising. Clive Tyldesley, a veteran football commentator, recently parted ways with the radio station TalkSport due to his unease with the obligation to promote bookmakers and odds during matches.


Guardian Media Group is progressively shifting its reliance from advertising to direct contributions from readers as a source of income.


Bateson affirmed, "We are able to make these types of decisions due to our independent ownership structure, effectively balancing our purpose and profit."


She further added that The Guardian's own reporting revealed how the UK government's proposed betting reforms "fell short on any meaningful action on gambling advertising."


Bateson clarified, "We understand and respect that millions of our readers, including our reporters and staff, are passionate sports fans who may occasionally choose to engage in gambling as part of their sporting experience. It is a matter of personal freedom, and we have no issue with that."


"We fully support the enjoyment of sports and respect individuals' choices to participate in occasional gambling on football, horse racing, or any other sport. Our concern lies with the pervasive nature of retargeted digital advertisements that ensnare a portion of sports fans in an addictive cycle."


The Guardian's decisive action to ban gambling advertising signifies its commitment to informing and safeguarding its readership against the potential harms associated with excessive gambling.

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