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The Link Between Online Gambling And Pornography

Author: Renee Israel

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What do online gambling and pornography have in common? No, this isn't the opening to a bad joke. In fact, there is nothing remotely funny about the government's directives to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that they need to set up new porn filters.

It's not that we have anything against protecting innocent viewers from adult content. In fact filters - those purely to block access to pornography by minors - may be a good thing. However, we draw the line when it comes to clumping online gambling under the same umbrella of sites that will be filtered.

Online gambling should NOT be linked to pornography. Nor does it belong side by side with what the government terms violent content and radically charged content.

Thankfully, not all ISPs are introducing mandatory filters, with some companies such as British Telecom and Virgin Media are seeing the logic in allowing adults to choose the type of content they wish to view.

PM Targets Online Porn Sites

In 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that if viewers wanted to access adult themed content sites, they would need to contact the ISP directly and request that mandatory filters on such sites be removed.  Some ISPs have now moved in that direction, much to the dismay of online gamblers. We can argue about the right of government to demand that adults move beyond their discretion zone in order to request the right to watch porn. But that's not the issue here.

The problem is that, by introducing mandatory filters, companies such as TalkTalk and Sky will also be blocking internet gambling sites by default. To play at these sites, players would  need to contact these ISPs and request the block be removed.

The government may argue that these filters prevent minors from accessing online gambling sites, but when we consider that the vast majority of UK online bookies, casinos and poker sites have very strict identification software in place, these filters are simply unnecessary.

They are also, of course, bad for business.

We find it hugely ironic that TalkTalk has done a complete turnabout on its January 2014 policy when it stated: "We do not believe that it is for ISPs to decide what content adults should access. It is really important that there is either a proper legal framework when it comes to blocking access to sites just like with copyright infringement, or that it is down to customer choice."

Not Only Bad for Online Gambling

It is not only online gambling sites that will be affected by ISPs that introduce mandatory filters. A group called the Open Rights Group claimed that over 50 registered charities in the UK were blocked by filters in 2013.

More absurdly, sites that mentioned the word Essex or Sussex also sometimes found themselves blocked because they mentioned the word s-e-x.

While we support the government's right to take certain measures to "protect the innocence of our children", we believe that there has to be some logic involved, and these measures should not come at the expense of consenting adults seeking online betting entertainment from the comfort of their own homes.

 Posted by Renee Israel at 10:37 on 2 February 2015

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