The Big Step campaign has written to ITV executives before of England’s UEFA 2020 European Championship semi-final match against Denmark, requesting that no gambling advertisements be broadcast.
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’, citing the fact that over 20 million people in the UK watch the England national team, including many children.
Promotion of addictive products
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.”
The Big Step sent a letter to a number of television, radio, and online media outlets, including ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky Sports, BT Sport, TalkSPORT, Global Radio, Acast, and Stakhanov, two months ago, requesting that gambling advertising be banned during the event.
Supporters of the campaign
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) have signed the campaign’s letter.
Cowan later reaffirmed his position in June, urging that ITV put gambling commercials on hold for the time being. Prior to the tournament’s start, ITV’s board guaranteed MPs that the broadcaster’s betting advertising coverage would be greatly reduced compared to past seasons.
ITV emphasised that betting content was subject to a “whistle-to-whistle” advertising ban throughout its football broadcast, and that gambling advertisements may only be shown during the ad breaks of 8 p.m. matches.
Most-watched live BBC TV event in 2021
The Big Step Campaign’s newest statement to the media follows England’s 4-0 quarter-final victory over Ukraine, which was watched by 20.9 million people – an 81.8 percent share of all viewers at the time – and was the most-watched live television event on the BBC thus far in 2021.
The Big Step’s letter continued: “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.
“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.”