Tougher standards on gambling advertising announced

Business News

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) has announced tougher standards on gambling advertising, focusing on ads’ appeal to problem gamblers and on free bets and bonuses. Both sets of standards form part of continued efforts to make sure regulation prevents harm and promotes responsible advertising.

The new standards on problem gambling:

  • Restrict ads that create an inappropriate sense of urgency like those including “Bet Now!” offers during live events;
  • Curb trivialisation of gambling (e.g. encouraging repetitive play);
  • Prevent approaches that give an irresponsible perception of the risk or control (e.g. “Risk Free Deposit Bonus”);
  • Provide greater detail on problem gambling behaviours and associated behaviours that should not be portrayed, even indirectly;
  • Prevent undue emphasis on money-motives for gambling; and
  • Provide more detail on vulnerable groups like problem gamblers that marketers need to work to protect.

The 2005 Gambling Act liberalised gambling advertising in the UK and since then, the market has grown significantly with new online platforms to advertise and for people to participate in gambling.

Evidence reviewed in developing the CAP guidance suggests that advertising does not play a causal or even significant role in problem gambling or harm in general. Problem gambling rates have in fact remained relatively stable during a period of considerable growth in adverting volumes.  Although the overall impact is small, the evidence points to potential risk factors in the form of claims, imagery or approaches that might unduly influence people to behave irresponsibly. That’s why CAP is setting tougher standards to tackle any potential for harm. Ads must not play on individuals’ susceptibilities (financial concerns, self-esteem) or contain anything that might exploit vulnerable groups such as those with problem gambling issues.

By publishing the new standards, we are also meeting our commitment as set out in the UK Government’s recent consultation on proposals for changes to Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures.

The new standards will come into effect on 2 April 2018.  The Advertising Standards Authority will use the standards when considering future complaints about ads. You can read our full regulatory statement on our website.

Later this year, CAP will publish further guidance focusing on the protection of children and young people.