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Sheffield man backs call for action on 'hugely destructive' gambling ads

Adam Bradford with his dad David.
Adam Bradford with his dad David.
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The son of a Sheffield man who was jailed over his gambling debts has backed calls for tighter advertising laws.

Adam Bradford, whose father David was sent to prison for fraud after stealing more than £50,000 to fund his habit, said the Local Government Association, or LGA, was right to target a 'huge rise' in betting adverts.

Mr Bradford wants tighter restrictions on gambling firms such as William Hill.

Mr Bradford wants tighter restrictions on gambling firms such as William Hill.

The group, which represents councils across the UK, said it was time for the Government to tighten restrictions on adverts for gambling firms in order to prevent children developing problems as they grow older.

It said it was concerned the volume of gambling advertising, including 'live bet' TV adverts during sport, was undermining the Government's objective of socially responsible growth in the sector.

Mr Bradford, who recently wrote to Theresa May calling for better support for gambling addicts, said betting was 'hugely destructive'.

He added: "The knock-on effect gambling addiction has on society is understated and advertising has a huge part to play in enticing and retaining gamblers, especially problem gamblers.

"My dad was lured in by free bets, constant e-mails and texts from numerous companies and their affiliate marketers. Even when he was behind bars the companies continued.

"I saw his e-mail account receive 8,000 gambling marketing e-mails when he was in prison and he received expensive marketing text messages from another company.

"Self-exclusion measures did not work, he was still able to gamble and set up new accounts and despite my attempts to get the companies to stop marketing to him, they did not easily budge, even knowing he had gone to prison due to crimes connected with his gambling."

Last month city councillors debated how best to tackle the damage caused by fixed-odds betting terminals. The issue was also raised in the recent BBC drama 'Broken', starring Sheffield actor Sean Bean.

Simon Blackburn is chairman of the LGA's safer and stronger communities board. He said: "Gambling advertising on television has rocketed since the Gambling Act came into force in 2007, which is a major concern for councils who are aware of the personal harm that problem gambling can cause.

"While the Gambling Act was intended to position gambling as an acceptable leisure activity, we are concerned that the volume of gambling advertising goes beyond what can be deemed the right balance between socially responsible growth and protecting individuals and communities.

"Councils are not anti-bookies but a new cumulative impact test would give them the power to veto new betting shops - and fixed-odds betting terminals - in places where there are already existing clusters.

"Problem gambling can lead to spiralling debt, deteriorating mental health and wellbeing, and a toll on society - and taxpayers - through crime and disorder, family breakdown and homelessness. It's vital that improved social responsibility measures are implemented to help to reduce this."