Mantra set to defend online gambling sites

The body that represents online gambling websites has turned to Mantra PR ahead of a government study into gambling addiction due later this month.

Casinos: plans were shelved
Casinos: plans were shelved

The Remote Gambling Association is steeling itself for the first detailed investigation into problem gambling since 1999.

Although The Gambling Prevalence Study will not be released for at least ten days, last weekend’s newspapers were full of predictions that the study would reveal the number of gambling addicts in the UK to have rocketed. The burgeoning online gambling ind­ustry has been pinpointed for blame in some quarters.

‘We don’t know what the results are yet but we are preparing for this to be a huge story,’ said Mantra MD Debbie Wosskow, leading the account.

‘We need to make sure that different operators are speaking with one voice, with no-one pointing the finger.’ The Remote Gambling Association’s members inc­lude 888.com, William Hill and Totesport.

Mantra has also been called by Business in Sports and Leisure – whose members include Betfair, the British Horseracing Board and David Lloyd Leisure – to deal with the potential fall-out from the report.

Meanwhile, the British Casino Association is using its retained agency of seven years, DJH Associates, for both public affairs and media relations on the issue.

On top of media issues, the industry is bracing itself for the Government’s reaction to the study.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown – who recently shelved plans for a super-casino in Greenwich – is not considered an advocate of gambling.

The report was commissioned as part of the Gambling Act 2005, in an effort to follow up a 1999 study that found ‘relatively low levels’ of gambling addiction in the UK. Such a report is now due to be released every two years.

The study comes as the industry is under intense scrutiny, owing to the introduction of legislation allowing online gambling sites to advertise on television for the first time this week.

The gambling industry has alr­eady introduced its own voluntary code, recommending a ban on pre-watershed advertising.

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