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Miller calls for industry to build on code of conduct.

Byline: Bill Barber

THE betting industry yesterday said it welcomed the government's support for its code of conduct and would work to improve it following calls from culture secretary Maria Miller for measures to be strengthened.

In an article written for The Sunday Times, Miller said the recently introduced code of conduct, which sets player protection measures including time and monetary warnings on gaming machines, was "a good step forward".

However, she added: "These measures are part of a voluntary code, meaning that the decision still lies with individual bookmakers as to whether they will apply them. Given the serious concerns, this is clearly not enough."

Miller said the code would become mandatory while the Gambling Commission would look at whether the monetary and time warnings were stringent enough. She also said players should have to pre-set the amount of money or time they intend to play for.

The minister added she wanted a system developed within six months that allowed customers to exclude themselves from betting shops on a national basis and asked the industry to consider ending machine advertising in shop windows.

She also revealed she had asked the Advertising Standards Authority to review codes for gambling advertising, especially on television.

William Hill chief executive Ralph Topping said Miller had been "both constructive and helpful" and he believed the code "should be mandatory across the entire industry".

On advertising he said he had "no issue with reasonable restrictions", but while selfexclusion was "an extremely important subject" it was not one "that is easily resolved".

He added on his blog: "William Hill has rigorous retail and online self-exclusion processes which we are happy to review in line with the secretary of state's suggestions."

Association of British Bookmakers chairman Neil Goulden also welcomed the government's support for the code, which would evolve based on evidence.

He added: "New measures that are being discussed, like a national self-exclusion scheme, are something we're committed to helping with and we want to find a sound and workable solution soon."

However, shadow sports minister Clive Efford said the code was "half-hearted" and the government had done "too little too late".

He added: "David Cameron has promised action on this but we're still waiting to see if he'll stick to his word."

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 4, 2014
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