SIMON NOTT: The full house of safer gambling

We saw lots of bookmaker involvement in ‘Safer Gambling Week’, they bombarded us with emails while social media was bursting with safe gambling advice. Those of us that bet on football and horseracing with bookies were left in no doubt that we need to keep an eye on our punting and make sure we kept it safe. Everyone was reminded that the tools are all there to help us should we need it, self-exclusion, deposit limits and a line to call should we need advice, which of course is all very important as it’s a serious issue.

Traditional punters are well catered for when it comes to safer gambling. They are also well versed on the chances of what they are betting on and always have been. OK if we bet something at 5/1 it’s probably bigger odds than that of winning but they have a rough idea what we are up against. We also know that the odds are stacked against us when betting a 16-match footie accumulator or a Super-Yankee. The plus side is we do have a huge mine of information to study so can at least make educated selections as part of those exotic bets we are long odds against to win on.

Going back to Safer Gambling Week, I was quite surprised to see that the bingo industry were involved. We know that horseracing bettors and people that hammer the casino app on their phones are lumped together in problem gambling figures. Does mean the old dear that meets her mates down at the bingo come under the same bracket as those that play on-line? Is there any evidence that the regulars that attend bingo halls have problem gamblers in their midst? I thought maybe that the problem might lie in those on-line bingo games that must be big business, they have been the sponsors of some big daytime TV shows for years. I couldn’t find any evidence.

Which leads me on to that very vehicle for what I’m guessing could well be the nation’s biggest daily punt. The TV sponsored prize draw. Currently on just one of the TV stations there are five active draws, win £50,000 and some gadgets, a trip to Disney, a camper van and some readies, a premium car and even more readies and another for 55,000 smackers. All of these are advertised on TV in glittering adverts. There are sometimes even interviews with breathless lucky winners telling people that if it can happen to them it could happen to you but you have to be in it to win it, in maybe not in so many words.

The beauty of these competitions for those behind them is that you don’t need to open an account or download an app. You can just text or pay online with PayPal and other easy methods to part with your money from the comfort of your own sofa. If the major prizes weren’t enough there’s a daily draw and all sorts of other ways to get lucky. I should point out that you can also enter by post in some cases, I’m sure plenty do, at least the Post Office get a cop too.

What struck me was the lack of any gambling awareness advertising or warnings on the websites pushing these prize draws. I’m not a daytime TV regular but am hazarding a guess that they don’t feature in the TV adverts either. There’s no mention of odds, assuming there’s no limit to the number of people that can enter to win a prize to Disney, in fact the more the merrier for the promoter, the more people that enter, the bigger the odds against winning get. It’s a generalisation but a number of people that watch daytime TV may struggle to afford to keep firing £2 bets off on their phones. Just texting one bet a day after an advertising gee-up is around £60 a month added to your phone bill. That’s what they are, isn’t it? Bets. Bets where you have no idea what the chances of your winning are.

When is gambling not gambling? When it’s the ‘softest’ variety but potentially the most insidious.


Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.

Simon Nott is author of: Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring
available on Kindle