Political Pressure Could Ban Betting Ads During Sporting Events

A whistle-to-whistle ban on betting adverts could be on the cards but the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) has stressed that it’s far from a done deal.

Betting advert

Betting adverts like those featuring actor Ray Winstone won’t be shown during sports events if RGA rules are approved. (Image: YouTube/NikNakTVChannel)

According to a report by the BBC, a new RGA proposal will see its members agree to not show adverts during live sporting events.

As per the December 6 article, the ban would exclude horse racing broadcasts but include all other sports. Additionally, the ban will prevent betting ads being shown during events that start before but end after the 9pm watershed.

Political Pressure Challenges Operators

In response to the BBC report, the RGA denied that any plans had been finalised. Speaking to iGamingBusiness, RGA CEO Clive Hawkswood said the BBC had “got it wrong” and that proposals to address the situation are still being discussed.

He did, however, say that a number of measures have been suggested, including the reported whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling content on TV. For its part, the BBC acknowledged the new rules were likely to happen but, as yet, hadn’t been agreed on by RGA members such as William Hill, Ladbrokes and Bet365.

“It would be a very brave company that would stick its head above the parapet in isolation,” an unnamed industry executive told the BBC on December 6.

Betting Ad Debate Continues

The issue of betting adverts first hit the headlines in 2017. In a report by the Victoria Derbyshire Show, researchers found that 272 of 1,324 adverts shown during a particular selection of sports broadcasts were about gambling.

The political debate intensified this summer following the FIFA World Cup. Analysing ITV’s coverage of the football tournament, The Guardian found almost 90 minutes’ worth of betting content was shown.

Reacting to the glut of betting adverts, Labour deputy leader Tom Watson pledged to tackle the “hidden epidemic” by cutting the ties between football and betting. Although Watson lacks the power to implement any regulatory changes, the outcry upped the political pressure on UK operators.

Approval Needed Before Major Change

Before any advertising guidelines are rubberstamped, RGA members will discuss the issue at a meeting next week. Should a whistle-to-whistle ban get the greenlight, it will be welcomed by the government and could come into force as soon as this month.

Changing the rules regarding TV betting content will be the third significant change to UK gaming this year. Following an official government review, prime minister Theresa May confirmed in May that the maximum bet for fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) will be cut to £2.

In tandem with these changes, chancellor Philip Hammond announced in his budget that a new remote gaming tax would come into effect next year. Raising the bar from 15 percent to 21 percent, Hammond believes the levy will offset the loss of tax revenue brought about by the FOBT changes.

Despite the financial impact these legal changes will have, the UK’s top operators appear willing to support greater social responsibility measures heading into 2019.

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