Garth and Jan O’Donnell

The Stop Gambling Adverts Campaign is the initiative of Garth and Jan. Incensed by the tsunami of gambling adverts on both television and social media (to name but a few), they hope that putting a small kernel out there will encourage others to follow suit.

Both having a background in creative and informative arts, Jan worked for many years in the British Telecom computer division in Bristol, followed by 20 years in the Bristol Film Industry as a production accountant. Together they established roots in Bristol in 1985 with Bristol Books. A few years later, they founded The Bristolian Cafe (in partnership with friend Frank Meadowcroft) in 1991, which received a Civic Award. 1993 saw them branching out in Bedminster, Bristol with Bristol Books.

1994 saw the start of the Bristol Art Bank (a no-commission art gallery). Which, a year later saw the purchase of The Old Carriage Works on Jamaica Street, Stokes Croft, Bristol. With two partners in 1995, they began starting with the idea of a Transatlantic Slave Trade Museum along the lines of John Moores (founder of Littlewoods) museum in Liverpool. This was not encouraged at the time, and without funding was impossible to initiate. Since the 1995 partnership, the Jamaica Street Studios has been running ever since and is one of the largest privately run studio collectives outside of London.

Their message is simply this:

“We are not being evangelical about banning gambling, but feel that if tobacco advertising has been so successfully banned (with people still continuing to smoke), surely the same could apply to gambling advertisements?”

Commercial television bombards us with an unrelenting onslaught of gambling ads – for online casinos, slots, and poker. The ads obviously pay off: gambling hasn’t collapsed during lockdowns. Families are paying the price: debt problems are mounting, children are neglected, and crime is increasing. Suicides are the highest cost: coroners noted gambling’s involvement in nearly 500 deaths in the UK in 2020.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling-Related Harm has called on free-to-air broadcaster ITV – home to numerous high-profile horse racing fixtures – and Channel 5 to end daytime gambling advertising. Now, in a rare move, Bristol City Council is banning all gambling ads from its city centre banners, digital screens and bus stop adverts, on health grounds.

Campaigners are increasingly highlighting this serious problem and its fatal consequences. As concerned individuals, we are funding a poster campaign at our own cost to bring the issue to wider attention. TV tobacco ads were banned in 1965. Why are gambling ads still on air over half a century later?

Editors’ Note.

The artwork for this poster (and the accompanying series of self-help illustrations) was designed by Aidan Hughes. Aidan is a publisher of the ‘Brute’ pulp nasties and a well-known designer of posters, record sleeves, and animations.

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