UK Gambling Adverts Spark Social Responsibility Debate

The way UK gambling sites advertise their services has come under fire following a recent report aired on the Victoria Derbyshire show.


UK Gambling Commission to take a tough stance on betting ads that breach its social responsibility policy. (Image: YouTube/TelevisionVault)

Investigating the prevalence of gambling related adverts on UK TV, reporters for the BBC Two show found that 95 percent of breaks during live football matches contained at least one betting ad.

Although advertising laws state that gambling promos can only be shown after the 21:00 watershed, there are exceptions when it comes to live sporting events.

Gambling Ads Stacking Up

In addition to the headline stat, the report analysed the ad breaks before, during and after 25 British games shown on BT Sport, Sky Sports and ITV and found 272 of 1,324 commercials were for gambling.

Responding to the report, industry insiders have insisted that commercials have a “limited impact” on participation rates. Despite this claim, the government has been considering whether new measures are needed to help regulate the industry.

As well as gambling adverts linked to sporting events coming under fire, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has issued a warning to operators regarding child-friendly content. In a letter sent to all operators licensed by the UKGC, the regulator stated that all ads containing content that could appeal to under 18s must be taken down.

“This relates particularly to freely accessible ads for play-for-free and play-for-money games
and includes all graphics and images displayed on a website or in third party media,” stated the letter dated October 20.

Reading further into the issue, the UKGC, in conjunction with the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), has found numerous instances of adverts that feature images minors may like. Operators have been given a short window of time to remove any adverts that may breach the UKGC’s social responsibility guidelines.

Regulators to Take Tough Stance

Those that fail to (deliberately or otherwise) comply with the request could face sanctions from the ASA, including: the automatic removal of paid ads via search engines, ad alerts and even the removal of trading privileges.

Although the UKGC and ASA have drawn a clear line in the sand, the law still has room for interpretation. In 2015, a Foxy Bingo advert that featured a fairground setting was brought before an ASA tribunal.

However, after reviewing the advert, the ASA concluded that while some elements may have appealed to under 18s, the overall package wasn’t enough contentious enough to break the law. Regardless of the possible interpretations of a single commercial, operators and their adverts will now be facing more scrutiny than ever.

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