UK watchdog announces new rules for gambling ads

UK watchdog announces new rules for gambling ads

Gambling ads will no longer be allowed to feature sports people or celebrities who are well-known among minors.

UK.- The UK’s Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) has announced the introduction of tough new rules for gambling ads that it says aim to safeguard young people and vulnerable audiences.

The rules will significantly impact gambling advertisers looking to promote their brands using prominent sports people and celebrities or social media influencers who appeal to under-18s.

The new rules state that gambling and lottery ads must not “be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture”.

This is a step-change from the existing rules that gambling ads must not be of “particular appeal” to children – that is, that they must not appeal to children more than adults. The new “strong” appeal test prohibits content (imagery, themes and characters) that has a strong level of appeal to under-18s regardless of how it is viewed by adults.

In practice, this will significantly restrict the imagery and references that gambling ads will be allowed to use. CAP said this should decrease the potential for gambling ads to attract the attention of under-18s. Gambling ads will not be able to use:

  • Topflight footballers and footballers with a considerable following among under-18 on social media.
  • All sportspeople well-known to under-18s, including sportspeople with a considerable volume of under-18 followers on social media.
  • References to video game content and gameplay popular with under-18s.
  • Stars from reality shows popular with under-18s, such as Love Island.

The rules will come into effect on October 1.

CAP director Shahriar Coupal said: “The days of gambling ads featuring sports stars, video game imagery and other content of strong appeal to under-18s are numbered. By ending these practices, our new rules invite a new era for gambling ads, more particular to the adult audience they can target and more befitting of the age-restricted product they’re promoting.”

CAP added: “In October 2020, CAP launched a consultation to respond to GambleAware’s Final Synthesis Report: The impact of gambling marketing and advertising on children, young people and vulnerable adults. The findings of this report indicated that regulatory changes would help continue to protect under-18s from gambling-related advertising harms.

“Our gambling advertising rules have always placed a particular emphasis on protecting young and vulnerable people and we will continue to review our rules, policies and guidelines to make sure that they are effective.”

Betting and Gaming Council welcomes new ad rules

The Betting and Gaming Council, the gambling industry lobby group, has welcomed the changes and again stressed the commitment of licensed operators to responsible gambling.

CEO Michael Dugher said: “The BGC supports these changes not least because they build on a whole range of measures we have led in recent times to drive up standards and ensure further protections in advertising.

“In 2019, BGC members introduced the whistle-to-whistle ban on TV betting commercials during live sport before the 9pm watershed, which led to the number of such ads being seen by young people at that time falling by 97 per cent. Our members also introduced new age gating rules on advertising on social platforms, restricting the ads to those aged 25 and over for most sites.

“It is worth remembering that according to the Gambling Commission, the proportion of young people who gambled in a previous seven day period fell from 23 per cent in 2011 to 11 per cent in 2019. The most popular forms of betting by young people are playing cards, scratchcards, bets between friends and fruit machines – not with BGC members. The BGC take a zero tolerance approach to gambling by those under the age of 18 and we enforce the toughest possible action.

“The regulated betting and gaming industry is determined to promote safer gambling and greater customer protection – unlike the unsafe and growing online black market, which has none of the safeguards that apply and will apply to BGC members.”

GambleAware, the industry-supported responsible gambling charity, also welcomed the changes. Its research contributed to the decision to introduce the new measures.

Chief executive Zoe Osmond said: “We are pleased to see this proactive measure to protect under-18s from exposure to gambling adverts. We are also delighted that GambleAware’s research led to these steps being taken. Our research, published in 2020, showed that 94 per cent of 11-17-year-olds in Great Britain had been exposed to gambling adverts in the last month, seeing six adverts on average.

“Nearly two thirds of this group had seen gambling adverts on social media, while nearly half had seen sports teams, games or events sponsored by a gambling operator.”

Meanwhile in France, the ANJ has called on operators to do more to reduce the intensity of advertising, and in the Netherlands, the government is looking at introducing controls to limit advertising due to a spike in ads after the launch of regulated online gambling.

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