“Whistle to whistle” advertising restrictions shown to reduce number of betting ads seen by children

The Betting and Gambling Council has published review findings (that you can download below) relating to the gambling industry’s voluntary “whistle to whistle” (“W2W”) advertising restrictions 

Its summary within the review findings document reads as follows:

  • Gambling industry’s voluntary commitment to bar “whistle-to-whistle” advertising during live sport now restricts pre-watershed (9pm) advertising to live sport programmes only (outside of W2W period)
  • New commitment sees gambling advertising on TV virtually eliminated during the restricted period, according to independent data
  • As a proportion of total TV gambling advertising consumption, the W2W period fell from 10.5% to just 0.6%, resulting in 109 million fewer advertising views over comparative weekends
  • Total gambling advertising exposure over the full duration of live sport pre-watershed programmes also declined by 78%, resulting in 103 million fewer advertising views between comparative weekends
  • Gambling advertising views by children (aged 4-17) reduced by 70% over the full duration of live sporting programmes, and has been effectively eliminated from the restricted W2W period
  • Sports-gambling advertising hourly output around sports-programmes reduced by 54% with a 10% decline for other gambling formats
  • Introduction of the W2W restriction contributed to a reduction of 1.7 billion views of gambling advertising over the five months to end December 2019
  • No apparent displacement of gambling advertising to evening sports programming, with post-watershed sports-gambling advertising also down by 28%. However, the viewing of sports gambling advertising around non-sports programming after the watershed rose by around one-third, which may reflect some displacement following the W2W restriction

The BGC’s press release on this subject states:

‘Whistle to whistle’ ban dramatically reduces number of betting adverts seen by children

A ban on TV betting advertising during live sport has dramatically reduced children’s ability to watch them, according to a new report.

Expert analysis has revealed that the “whistle to whistle” ban has slashed the amount of TV gambling ads seen by 4 to 17-year-olds by 97 per cent.

Under the ban, betting adverts must not be shown on TV from five minutes before a live sporting event begins until five minutes after it ends, prior to the 9pm watershed.

It was introduced by members of the Betting and Gaming Council on 1 August, 2019.

The BGC represents the regulated betting industry, excluding the National Lottery.

A study by Enders Analysis found that during the whistle to whistle period, the number of betting ads seen by children fell by 97 per cent. And overall, the amount of gambling ads viewed by youngsters has fallen by 70 per cent over the full duration of live sport programmes.

The analysis also found that the whistle to whistle ban contributed to a reduction of 1.7 billion views of betting ads during the first five months it was in operation.

Meanwhile, there were 109 million fewer gambling ads viewed across four comparative weekends as a result of the ban.

Total gambling advertising exposure during live sport before 9pm also declined by 78 per cent.

In addition, the research found that there was no apparent displacement of gambling advertising to other evening sports programmes, with the number of post-watershed ads also down by 28 per cent.

Since being set up last year, the BGC has introduced a range of measures aimed at improving standards in the industry.

These include a requirement that at least 20 per cent of TV and radio gambling advertisements are safer gambling messages, cooling off periods on gaming machines, new ID and age verification checks, encouraging deposit limits and boosting funding for research, education and treatment.

The BGC is also working on a new code of conduct for sponsorship and advertising that will further improve standards.

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said:

“The BGC was set up to improve standards in our industry. The success of the whistle to whistle ban is a clear example of that commitment and I’m very pleased at how effective it has been during its first year in operation.

In particular, it’s encouraging to see that it has effectively eliminated children’s ability to view betting adverts during live televised sport. I am determined that the BGC will lead a race to the top in terms of industry standards and we want to drive more changes in the future.

At the same time, we urge the Government to work with us to crack down on black market operators who have no interest in safer gambling or protecting their customers and do not work to the same responsible standards as BGC members.

The Review of the Gambling Act will also provide further opportunities to improve standards and we look forward to working with the Government on this.”