New tougher standards on gambling advertising announced by CAP

The Committees of Advertising Practice (“CAP”) have today updated their guidance on gambling advertising as part of the ongoing effort by all relevant regulators to ensure problem gamblers and vulnerable consumers are being treated fairly.

That guidance (that can be downloaded below) is intended to help marketers and agencies interpret CAP and BCAP’s gambling rules (set out in section 16 of the CAP Code and section 17 of the BCAP Code) as they relate to responsibility and problem gambling issues.

Today’s CAP news item entitled “Tougher standards on gambling advertising announced” can also be downloaded below. It states that the new standards on problem gambling will come into effect on 2 April 2018 and will:

  • 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 guidance (that should be read in full by all involved in marketing and advertising of both remote and non-remote gambling gambling) covers issues such as:

  • vulnerability, stating: “in general, marketers should exercise caution when preparing campaigns. They should consider how they might affect vulnerable groups and ensure that marketing communications do not contain content likely to cause harm”
  • erroneous perceptions of risk and control, stating: “marketing communications should avoid approaches that give erroneous perceptions of the level of risk involved or the extent of a gambler’s control over a bet or gambling in general”
  • impulsiveness and urgency, stating: “in order not to encourage gambling behaviour that is irresponsible, marketing communications should not unduly pressure the audience to gamble, especially when gambling opportunities offered are subject to a significant time limitation”
  • trivialization, stating: “marketers should take care to avoid approaches that trivialise gambling and avoid the impression that the decision to gamble should be taken lightly”
  • problem gambling behaviours and other indicators of problem gambling, stating: “marketing communications that portray or otherwise refer to individuals displaying problem gambling behaviours or other behavioural indicators linked to problem gambling are likely to be regarded by the ASA as a breach of these rules”

and interpretation of the rules relating to gambling advertising that portrays or otherwise refers to:

  • specific problem gambling behaviours, i.e. gambling taking priority in personal life, solitary gambling and gambling in the work-place
  • motivations to gamble that are associated with heightened risk of problem gambling, i.e. personal problems and financial concerns
  • other irresponsible appeals, i.e.
    • seduction, sexual success and enhanced attractiveness
    • toughness, resilience and recklessness
    • enhancing personal qualities
    • cultural beliefs or traditions about gambling or luck
  • criminal or anti-social behaviour.

Shahriar Coupal, Director of CAP, is quoted as saying: “We won’t tolerate gambling ads that exploit people’s vulnerabilities or play fast and loose with eye-catching free bet and bonus offers.  Our new guidance takes account of the best available evidence to strengthen the protections already in place, ensuring that gambling is presented responsibly, minimising the potential for harm.”

Accompanying this announcement of tougher standards on gambling advertising is the publication by CAP of new standards on free bets and bonuses (that take immediate effect today) intended to help advertisers understand the ASA, CAP and Gambling Commission’s current position on acceptable claims in advertisements and how terms and conditions should be displayed or signposted.

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