Church of England calls for health warning on gambling ads

 The Church of England has called for all advertisements promoting gambling to carry health warnings about the danger of gambling addiction. It states that the potential benefits of doing this "should outweigh the disadvantage of extra financial costs for advertisers." The statement questions whether the Government's objectives for regulating advertisements for gambling are realistic or achievable. It supports the Government's objective in the Gambling Act 2005 that "the reduction of harm should take precedence over the maximisation of innovation, consumer choice and economic gains," but questions how far "any regulatory framework" can achieve this goal, "given the persuasive function and character of advertising." The Church of England also calls on the Gambling Commission to make compliance with advertising rules a condition of gambling operators' licences. Responding to the Committee of Advertising Practice's consultation, the Church restates its long-held concern for the potential damage to individuals and families if more people become problem gamblers. In a submission signed by the Anglican Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Tom Butler, the Church acknowledges that the general principles in the proposed rules covering marketing communications and broadcast advertisements are aimed at promoting social responsibility and non-exploitation. But it argues that some of the rules may be difficult to apply effectively. The Church would support effective proposals, but "doubts whether the admirable principles can be guaranteed to be effective in practice." The submission proposes a lower age limit of 25 for all people shown gambling or playing a significant part in advertisements. The submission argues that adolescents should not be led into identifying with or imitating the behaviour of gamblers. No under-18s should have even a peripheral role in gambling advertisements, the sole exception being where the advertisement is for a venue where families might be expected to be present. The submission also accepts the proposal that no gambling advertisements should be placed around media directed at under-18s. Source: CoE Press Office