Major operators lead change of direction on betting advertising

On the same day that the Gambling Commission has published the new National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, GVC Holdings PLC – the global sports-betting and gaming group and owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – has called for an end to all UK sports-betting broadcast advertising, at any time of the day, on live and repeated sporting events (with the exception of horseracing).

Under GVC’s proposals, advertising specifically promoting responsible gambling and safer gambling campaigns would be permitted, but would be strictly limited to one advertisement per commercial break.

This goes considerably further than the forthcoming pre-watershed, whistle-to-whistle advertising ban (contained within the updated 5th edition of the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising) that will come into force on 1 August 2019.

GVC’s press release containing the above call can be downloaded below. It includes reference to the following additional initiatives as part of the company’s Changing for the Bettor safer gambling campaign:

  1. Shirt sponsorship and perimeter advert ban, stating: “GVC has today committed to unilaterally ending all football shirt sponsorship deals with UK teams and banning perimeter board advertising at football grounds, to allow sporting fans to watch their favourite teams without seeing any incentives to bet. The Company calls on its industry peers and UK football governing bodies to support this move and take action in this area”.
  2. Increased investment in RET, stating: “Having been the first and only operator to commit to doubling spending on RET (Research, Education and Treatment) to 0.2% of UK gross gambling revenue in 2019, GVC has today committed to raising this to 1% by 2022 – ten times the current minimum requirement”.
  3. Treatment centres, stating: “GVC is establishing a new independent trust with the aim of making charitable contributions to fund treatment of problem gambling. The Leon House centre in Manchester has been identiPed as the Prst preferred recipient”.
  4. Safer gambling software, stating: “To help those customers that are struggling with their gambling, we will offer the GamBan software, free to any individual who is showing signs of problematic play”.

This follows less than a week after William Hill launched a new ‘enjoy the moment’ advertising campaign featuring the unified world heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua. The ads will feature the following ‘safer gambling’ messages:

  • Know where you stand
  • Keep it fun
  • Control is everything
  • Take a Break

Reporting on the new campaign, SBC News has quoted William Hill’s Global Brand and Marketing Director, Charlotte Emery, as saying:

Our current brand narrative is ‘enjoy the moment’ and this new creative shows AJ landing a knockout blow before enjoying the moment as everything freezes while he dances around the stadium before returning to the ring to the adulation of his fans.  The story emphasises how William Hill want all our customers to enjoy their betting with us and celebrate the moments while staying in control. We opted for black and white and a highly stylised creative to really separate this creative in tone and quality from the rest of the sector.