Christian charity CARE says ITV has failed to put 'people over profit' by refusing to ban betting ads during the 2021 UEFA European Championships.
The social policy charity has written to the broadcaster to express it's 'deep disappointment' in its failure to act, after campaigners and leading health experts called for the all-out ban on gambling adverts during the Euros in a bid to protect those most vulnerable to addiction.
It comes after public health research found a significant spike in gambling-related harms during both large scale sporting events and the coronavirus pandemic.
CARE spokesperson Jamie Gillies told Premier they had hoped ITV would lead the way in protecting the most vulnerable:
"ITV had the opportunity here to send a message that gambling ads need to be tackled, that we should put people over profits. And the failure of them to do that, both when they're asked by campaigners, and then asked by us, is hugely disappointing."
Gillies went on to explain that although gambling can be 'harmless fun' for some, for a significant minority of people it causes 'genuine devastation' that can lead to 'job loss, relationship breakdown, family breakdown and in the most tragic cases, even suicide'.
"Before the pandemic, we knew that there were 430,000 adult problem gamblers in the UK, that's not including children. So given all of this, ITV have failed massively in the responsibility to look out for the vulnerable. And they've missed out on a massive opportunity to send a message to the gambling industry that they can't continue to have such control during sporting events, such as the euros which are watched by millions and millions of people," he said.
In a letter to ITV Chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette and ITV Chief Executive Carolyn McCall, CARE CEO Nola Leach called on ITV to reverse its decision:
"As you will be aware, calls for a full suspension of gambling advertising during the Euros have been echoed by various policymakers and experts as part of The Big Step campaign. Signatories of a recent letter included Christina Marriot, CEO of the Royal Society for Public Health, and Louisa Mason, Senior Policy and Communications Executive at the Gambling Health Alliance.
"If you truly care about justice and protecting vulnerable viewers, please demonstrate this by reversing your decision and agreeing to a ban on ads. With your leadership on this issue, other broadcasters will follow suit."