Stephen van Rooyen, CEO of Sky UK & Ireland, believes UK regulators have missed the mark with the recent ban on gambling adverts during sports telecasts.
British bookmakers have agreed to stop promoting their wares on television during live sports events, while research from Harris Interactive shows more than 80 per cent of the UK public approve of the move.
According to Van Rooyen, however, the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) is focusing on the wrong medium altogether.
“You could be forgiven for thinking this sounds a reasonable plan,” he wrote in The Times.
“The truth is the facts paint a very different picture.
“What the RGA has failed to address is the inconvenient truth that over 80 per cent of the gambling industry’s advertising is in the largely unregulated online world.
“If the RGA and gambling companies are serious about protecting vulnerable gamblers, they should start by looking at where they spend the most money, what has the least level of regulation and where there is most evidence of harm: the online world.”
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Television networks stand to lose millions in revenue now that gambling companies can trim down their advertising budgets.
As an official broadcaster partner of the English Premier League and several other top-flight sporting events, Sky will take a significant hit from the whistle-to-whistle ban.
However, Van Rooyen insisted his comments were not born of vested interests.
“These aren’t the views of a broadcaster scared of losing TV ad revenue; quite the opposite,” he said.
“Last month we voluntarily agreed to limit the number of gambling ads to one per commercial break.
“And we’re using our AdSmart technology to enable people to block gambling advertising if they wish.
“As a result, there will of course be some financial impact to Sky, but a proportionate and responsible limit to gambling advertising is the right thing to do.”
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