UK advertising authority strengthens gambling ad standards

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today released new standards to better protect children and young people from gambling advertising.

The new standards follow a review of the impact of gambling advertising on people under the age of 18, which found that exposure to gambling ads that comply with the UK’s Advertising Codes are unlikely to harm under-18s.

The ASA noted, however, that targeted restrictions are still required to address the potential risks associated with irresponsible advertising.

The new standards do not change the advertising rules but are meant to strengthen how the rules are applied in practice.

The new standards:

  • prohibit online ads for gambling products being targeted at groups of individuals who are likely to be under 18 based on data about their online interests and browsing behaviour;
  • extensively list unacceptable types of content, including certain types of animated characters, licensed characters from movies or TV and sportspeople and celebrities that are likely to be of particular appeal to children, and references to youth culture; and
  • prohibit the use in gambling ads of sportspersons, celebrities or other characters who are or appear to be under 25; and
  • adds to existing guidance on the responsible targeting of ads, covering all media (including social networks and other online platforms)

“Playing at the margins of regulatory compliance is a gamble at the best of times, but for gambling advertisers it’s particularly ill-advised, especially when the welfare of children is at stake,” said Shahriar Coupal, director of the Committees of Advertising Practice.

“Our new standards respond to the latest evidence and lessons from ASA rulings, and require that greater care is taken in the placement and content of gambling ads to ensure they are not inadvertently targeted at under 18s.”

The new standards come into force on April 1st, 2019.

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