Tighter gambling advertising restrictions welcomed by the Gambling Commission

The Gambling Commission has welcomed yesterday’s CAP announcements of tightened gambling advertising standards which focus on adverts appealing to problem gamblers and guidance for advertisers of free bets and bonuses.

In a website posting (that can be downloaded below), the Commission says in relation to the standards which focus on adverts appealing to problem gamblers (which will come into effect on 2 April 2018):

“The new standards, announced by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) yesterday and enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), will:

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

We anticipate a period of uncertainty whilst operators adjust their marketing strategies to come into line with the new standards. To take as an example, the concerns in relation to the “Bet Now!” type of advertisements “that create an inappropriate sense of urgency”, the ASA has in mind in-play betting. The Gambling Commission is on record as saying (in September 2016) that it does not consider that (a) “in-play betting represents such a significant risk to the licensing objectives that additional measures are required” or (b) “someone who bets in-play is automatically at increased risk of harm from gambling”. The bet365 in-play ads have been seized on by commentators keen to say they will now breach the guidelines. Those ads feature Ray Winstone’s closing line “bet in play (pause) now”, raising the following questions:

  • Is that wording of itself creating an unjustifiable sense of urgency or unduly pressurising a TV viewer to gamble when they otherwise would not?


  • Is it the case that this will occur only if there is some accompanying emphasis – whether in words or visually – on time to bet running out imminently?

We are able to advise operators on all questions they may have arising from publication of the new standards.

The guidance for advertisers of free bets and bonuses (which came into immediate effect yesterday) is intended to help advertisers understand the ASA, CAP and Gambling Commission’s current position on acceptable claims in gambling advertisements and how terms and conditions should be displayed or signposted. In relation to that, the Commission says: 

“CAP has outlined that significant conditions must always be prominently displayed, with other terms and conditions being at most only one click away. This complements a joint programme of work with the Gambling Commission and Competition and Markets Authority to ensure terms and conditions for promotions are fair and transparent for consumers.”

Ian Angus, Gambling Commission Programme Director, is reported as saying:

“The new advertising standards set clear expectations for the gambling industry. Gambling firms must not advertise in a way that could encourage problem gambling behaviour. Consumers must be able to make informed choices about how and when they gamble and not feel pressured into making decisions that could cause them harm. We expect gambling businesses to review the new guidance now and adjust any marketing and advertising accordingly. We support any enforcement activity by the ASA against operators who do not comply, and will not hesitate to take our own action against those who do not take their responsibilities seriously.”

We will be pleased to assist operators with any queries they may have on the new guidance.

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