Ladbrokes resorts to ‘scare tactics’ to protect the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling

Support us and go ad-free

On 3 March, Ladbrokes threatened to withdraw sponsorship money from sporting events over proposed betting regulations. The government is consulting over new restrictions for the notoriously addictive fixed odds betting terminals. New legislation could see the minimum stake per bet reduced from £100 to £2.

Ladbrokes is a major sponsor in horse racing, and also a partner with the Scottish Premiership and the Rugby Football League Challenge Cup, spending a total of £8m a year. Its threat was greeted with anger from campaigners and social media users.

The “crack cocaine” of gambling

Fixed odds betting terminals, dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling” by shadow culture secretary Tom Watson, give users automated access to casino games such as blackjack and roulette at up to three times the speed of a live game. The machines allow users to bet as much as £300 a minute, with a £100 limit on each bet. Figures from GambleAware show that 233,000 users lost more than £1,000 in a single sitting in 2016. An estimated 43% of users are at risk of becoming problem gamblers.

A 2015 report (pdf, p3) by the Responsible Gambling Trust found the majority of players of these machines tend to come from economically deprived areas, where the concentration of betting shops is often disproportionately high.

‘Scare tactics’

Ladbrokes claimed that the proposed reduction in the stake limit would have implications for the treasury as well as jobs across the UK. Campaigners and opponents were quick to respond, with some comparing the firm to payday lenders.

On Twitter, users described the threats as “pathetic” and “ugly”. Welsh Labour MP Carolyn Harris was one of those who questioned the announcement, with one campaigner describing the threats as ‘scare tactics’:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Shop closures

Despite citing job losses, the gambling industry has been concentrating almost solely on internet operations in recent years, gearing adverts towards enticing customers online with free bet offers.

With a decision due in a matter of weeks, Ladbrokes have made strides towards adapting their offline business model. Yesterday it announced plans to turn three former bookmakers shops “into adult gaming centres, also known as arcades”.

Withdrawal of sponsorship

Gambling Watch UK have been calling for betting firms to be restricted from advertising at sporting events for some time. And some people welcomed the proposed withdrawing of sponsorship:

The events that now potentially face loss of sponsorship functioned before the advent of the fixed odds betting terminals. And if the gambling industry’s current business model is so reliant on the exploitation of problem gamblers in economically deprived areas, it is surely time for a rethink.

Get Involved!

– If you are experiencing problems with gambling and would like help or advice please visit sites such as Gamcare or Gamblers Anonymous.

– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

– Read and support other independent media outlets:

Another Angry VoiceMedia DiversifiedNovara MediaCorporate WatchRed PepperNew InternationalistCommon SpaceMedia LensBella CaledoniaVox PoliticalEvolve PoliticsReal MediaReel NewsSTRIKE! magazineThe Bristol CableThe Meteor, The SkwawkboxSalford StarThe Ferret.

Featured image via Kenneth Allen/Wikimedia

Support us and go ad-free

Do your bit for independent journalism

Did you know that less than 1.5% of our readers contribute financially to The Canary? Imagine what we could do if just a few more people joined our movement to achieve a shared vision of a free and fair society where we nurture people and planet.

We need you to help out, if you can.

When you give a monthly amount to fund our work, you are supporting truly independent journalism. We hold power to account and have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence the counterpoint to the mainstream.

You can count on us for rigorous journalism and fearless opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right wing mainstream media.

In return you get:

  • Advert free reading experience
  • Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
  • 20% discount from our shop


The Canary Fund us

Comments are closed