Ruth Davidson documentary places primetime spotlight on Gambling Review

Channel 4 will air tonight ‘Football’s Gambling Addiction’ (7:30-8:30 pm), an investigation of football’s current relationship with gambling brands, led by former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.

The documentary was commissioned last month by the terrestrial broadcaster, which had recruited the former minister and journalist to lead an investigation of football’s ‘intertwined relationship with betting and gambling operators’.

In its synopsis, Channel 4 states that Davidson ‘asks uncomfortable questions about how we got here?’ – as UK gambling awaits the critical judgement of the government’s review of the 2005 Gambling Act.

The Guardian has disclosed that Davidson calls for MPs to back a ‘radical rethink’ of the gambling industry, which the life peer brands as a ‘parasite taking over its host’.

Of concern, Davidson highlights gambling’s saturated advertising coverage across football, which is described as an inescapable trigger for former addicts recovering from gambling disorders.

The former minister raises further concerns on operators’ cross-selling of high-risk products by getting football punters to wager on casino games and the use of gamification strategies to optimise customers’ spend.

Davidson’s documentary features an interview with John Whittingdale, the DCMS new undersecretary leading the review of UK gambling laws, industry standards and conduct.

The Guardian cites that ‘Davidson came away unconvinced that curbs on advertising are likely, with the minister citing a lack of evidence linking it to addiction’.

Whittingdale has maintained that DCMS will carry out its duties revising all critical components of UK gambling. The department has received over 13,000 responses during its consultation phase with regards to gambling’s technical provisions, conduct, licensing, affordability, consumer advocacy, social responsibility and corporate governance.

The significance of Davidson’s documentary should be noted by all gambling stakeholders, as Channel 4 places the Gambling Review at the forefront of its Monday night TV programming – in the week building up to the Euro 2020’s kick-off.

Addressing ministerial concerns, last week ITV bosses underlined that there would be ‘no World Cup 2018 scenario’ ensuring that its bookmaker advertising had been drastically reduced across its Euro 2020 programming schedule.

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