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If many operators had failed to realise that the freedom to advertise they currently enjoy in regulated markets needs to be wielded sensibly, they certainly do now.
New restrictions in response to public and political concerns over the pervasiveness of the sector’s advertising and its perceived impact on consumer protection are spreading across Europe, with Spain and Denmark the latest to table proposals.
Self-regulation, such as the new whistle-to-whistle TV ban in the UK, is clearly the way to regain control over its messaging and head-off government interventions. But with outgoing RGA chief Clive Hawkswood stating that if parliamentary questions about gambling continue to be off the scale “it’ll reach a point where the government finds it easier to ban gambling” (p108), time clearly isn’t on its side.
How the sector addresses this shift in sentiment and works with governments and regulators in the months ahead could decide its long-term future.