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The UK’s gambling minister has left the door open for future advertising restrictions if current regulations prove insufficient.

Stuart Andrew, the UK politician responsible for gambling, spoke at a parliamentary debate yesterday on the issue of gambling ads.

Some MPs suggested the country had “sidestepped” advertising in its suite of reforms undertaken as part of the April 2023 gambling white paper.

Andrew rejected this characterisation, however, describing it as “slightly unfair”.

The minister highlighted current work in this area including the front-of-shirt ban and the implementation of a cross-sport code of conduct for sponsorship.

However, he admitted further research is needed in this area.

The planned introduction of a statutory levy to fund RET projects would work to progress understanding of how advertising impacts gambling behaviour, he said.

“I am committed to tackling gambling-related harms and I am confident that the action we are taking will have a real impact in reducing those harms across the country,” he said.

“The new levy will provide us with even more evidence. As I have already committed, if further action is needed, we will look at it again.”

Labour Party urges government to publish code

The Labour Party’s shadow gambling minister also spoke at the debate, arguing the advertising measures were relatively “light touch”.

Stephanie Peacock urged the government to speed up the publication of its code of conduct, as the first anniversary of the white paper’s publication approaches.

“Without the code, the white paper seems to hardly address the relationship between gambling and sport,” she said.

“It is only through a combination of measures, from giving the Gambling Commission powers to crack down on the black market to restricting bonus and free bet offers, that we will bring our regulation into the modern age and better protect people from harm.”

Current polling indicates that Labour will likely form a majority government following the next General Election.

As such, there is a high chance Peacock will be involved in overseeing the government’s gambling policy.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith, who has become one of the most prominent supporters of gambling reform, argued that wholesale advertising restrictions were necessary.

“The push of gambling advertising is huge,” he said.

“Nobody who watches television or a sporting event can escape the idea that this is in front of them, even subliminally, although they may not remember it.

“Unless advertising reform is enacted at the source of harm, the reforms will be confined to playing catch-up to the constantly evolving landscape of sponsorship, marketing and advertising, and consequently failing to reduce gambling harms.”

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