ASA response to the UK Government Gambling Act Review Call for Evidence

The Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) has published its submission to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Call for Evidence in relation to the Government’s review of the Gambling Act 2005.

You can download that submission below. It contains no surprises and perhaps its most notable comments relate to the issues of:

  • gambling sponsorship being excluded from its remit,
  • its limited scope to control the volume of advertising (but noting the lack of evidence of harm from gambling advertising to which volume restrictions could be the appropriate response) and
  • ‘normalisation’ of gambling behaviour.

It states as follows in relation to the above items:

Gambling sponsorship

2.3. Gambling sponsorship is excluded from the ASA’s remit. Sponsorship, in and of itself, is an arrangement or contract between a brand and another party and the Code does not apply to arrangements themselves. Where sponsorship (e.g. of events, sports teams etc.) is featured in ads, the ads are subject to ASA regulation.

Volume of advertising

2.4. The ASA and, to the best of our knowledge, other regulators exercising powers in relation to marketing communications, have limited scope to control the volume of advertising, beyond restrictions on the media placement or scheduling of advertising. To date, the ASA has not seen evidence of harm from gambling advertising to which volume restrictions (as opposed to scheduling, placement, or content restrictions) could be the appropriate response.

‘Normalisation’ of gambling behaviour

4.1. The ASA System is aware of concerns that gambling advertising is ‘normalising’ gambling behaviour. It was a predicted consequence of the Gambling Act 2005 that gambling would become ‘normalised’. Gambling is widely recognised as a legitimate leisure pursuit subject to a strict product licensing regime; gambling operators can promote gambling provided their advertising complies with the UK Advertising Codes.

4.2. Our role is to prevent gambling advertising that ‘normalises’ irresponsible or potentially harmful gambling behaviour.

4.3. CAP and BCAP have produced a general statement on the issue of normalization.