Gambling brands face restrictions on 'urgency' in advertising

Gambling brands will face a raft of new restriction on how they can advertise under new tougher standards unveiled today by the Committees of Advertising Practice.

Paddy Power: among the brands set to be affected
Paddy Power: among the brands set to be affected

The new rules are designed to tackle the appeal of advertising to problem gamblers, and change how free bets and bonuses can be advertised.

The new standards on problem gambling, which come into effect on 2 April 2018, will:

  • restrict ads that create an inappropriate sense of urgency, such as those calling on players to place immediate bets during live events;

  • restrict ads that encourage repetitive play;

  • prevent approaches that give an irresponsible perception of the risk or control, such as messages about "risk free" bonuses;

  • provide greater detail to advertisers on problems gambling behaviours, and associated behaviours indicators, that should not be portrayed in ads;

  • provide more detail for advertisers on vulnerable groups that they need to work to protect.

New standards on free bets and bonuses, meanwhile, will apply from tomorrow.

Their aim is to help advertisers understand the existing position of the CAP, Advertising Standards Authority and Gambling Commission on acceptable claims in ads, and how terms and conditions should be displayed or signposted.

The CAP is introducing the rules despite finding evidence that advertising does not play a causal, or even significant, role in problem gambling or harm in general. 

But it said that while the overall impact is small, the evidence did point to potential risk factors in the practices outlined above.

Shahriar Coupal, director of the Committees of Advertising Practice, said: "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."

The announcement follows a government review, launched last October. The Advertising Association said at the time that it welcomed the review, but believed there was no evidence to support tougher regulations.

The AA proposed a major media campaign to promote responsible gambling behaviour, to be led by GambleAware, and running for two years with a budget of £5m to £7m each year.

The CAP said it would also publish further guidance later this year onthe protection of children and young people. Last October, the ASA, CAP and Gambling Commission wrote to gambling operators to warn them to stop using ads likely to appeal to under 18s.

In November, Sky Bet launched an ad focused on responsible gambling, in what it claimed was an industry first.

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