UKGC reminds operators to ensure no advertising occurs on copyright infringing websites

The Gambling Commission has today (7 February 2022) published the following reminder to its licence holders:

Infringing Website List (IWL) for gambling operators

Gambling operators are reminded that they have a responsibility to ensure that their digital adverts, and those of their third-party marketing affiliates, are not placed on websites providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content.

Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP) 16.1.1 covers the placement of digital adverts and is relevant to all licensees.

Licensees must:

  • Ensure that they do not place digital advertisements on websites providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content
  • Take all reasonable steps to ensure that third parties with whom they contract for the provision of any aspect of their business related to the licensed activities do not place digital advertisements on websites providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content
  • Ensure that the terms upon which they contract with such third parties enable them, subject to compliance with any dispute resolution provisions, to terminate the third party’s contract promptly if, in the Licensee’s reasonable opinion, the third party has been responsible for placing digital advertisements for the licensed activities on such websites.

Advertising which is placed on such websites contributes to their funding and are therefore associating gambling with crime.

Over the years, we have seen a significant reduction in gambling adverts appearing on copyright infringing websites, but a number of gambling adverts continue to appear. This demonstrates the need for gambling operators to introduce additional controls or to review the monitoring methods they currently have in place to ensure this does not occur. To date, the Gambling Commission (the Commission) has not specified any particular measures that licensees should take to prevent this, however, we are clear about our expectation.

Such a measure might include (but is not limited to): access to and proactive use of the Infringing Website List (IWL), owned by the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit’s (PIPCU). This is an online portal containing an up-to-date list of copyright infringing sites. The aim of the IWL is that advertisers, agencies, and other intermediaries can voluntarily decide to cease advert placement on illegal websites.

The Commission encourages gambling operators to register with the IWL. PIPCU has developed a useful guide to help operators (and their affiliates) with this process which can be obtained by emailing pipcuantipiracy@city-of-london.pnn.police.uk. Once registered, gambling operators are reminded that they must proactively monitor the IWL on a regular basis to ensure advertising is not being placed irresponsibly.

We recommend that all operators take this reminder seriously and, in addition to registering with the Infringing Website List, carefully check the terms of their agreements with marketing affiliates and other third parties carrying out advertising services on their behalf.

UPDATE: On 9 March 2022, the European Gaming & Betting Association published a press release (that you can download below) in which it welcomed a 55% reduction in advertising from major gambling brands in the EU being placed on websites which infringe upon intellectual property rights and confirmed that it will continue to promote an EU initiative to further reduce IPR-infringing online advertising in the gambling sector.