Shipley MP Philip Davies last night said he would appeal against an advertising watchdog’s decision to reject complaints about adverts describing fixed-odds gambling machines as “the scourge of the high street”.
The chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Betting and Gaming, acting in a personal capacity, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about five claims made by the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, which had advertised in The House magazine, read by MPs, about fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).
He said it was “misleading” that three campaign advertisements, addressed to “Mr Milliband”, “Mr Prime Minister and “Mr Deputy Prime Minister”:
* Described FOBTs as “the scourge of the high street”.
* Alleged they have “addictive roulette content”.
* Claimed they have been so widespread that they are known as the “crack cocaine of gambling”.
* Said “thousands of families” are affected by FOBT addiction
* Said they amount to “exploitation of poorer communities during a time of recession”.
However, the ASA yesterday rejected all five of Mr Davies’s complaints.
Mr Davies said he still believed the adverts were opinion, not fact, and would appeal the decision through an independent process.
“I don’t object to people having opinions about things, but they should not masquerade opinion as fact,” he said.
In its ruling, the ASA said it noted the advert was specifically targeted at MPs who “we considered would understand that such presentations were intended to influence their decision on a large range of issues, including very contentious ones, specifically where those issues had the potential to impact their own constituents.”
The adverts contained small print saying: “All assertions contained within this article are the opinion of the Fairer Gambling Campaign – a not-for-profit entity funded by Prime Table Games – experts in understanding game content and player behaviour”.
But Mr Davies said: “It seems they [the ASA] are saying that because it is in The House magazine the people reading it can differentiate between fact and opinion. It seems to be a nonsensical position.”
Derek Webb, founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said it felt vindicated by the ASA’s decision.