Gambling giants promise ad restrictions as pressure grows

Four of the UK’s biggest bookmakers have pledged to stop advertising start-up offers before the watershed and commit a fifth of their shop window space to responsible gambling ads in a move that will see the creation of a new self regulatory body setup to quell concern from politicians and the public about levels of excessive gambling.

Ladbrokes is testing digital and experiential retail initiatives to uncover new ways to get people in-stores.

William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Paddy Power are the founding members of the The Senet Group, a self-regulatory body they will fund with the aim of “promoting responsible gambling standards”.

The quartet have taken out full-page ads across the national press today (15 September) pledging to prohibit pre-watershed TV ads carrying enticements of free bets and free money from 1 October.

There is also a commitment to stop advertising gaming machines in shop windows and give over 20 per cent of display space to responsible gambling messages.A “major” new year campaign to educate people on the perils of excessive gambling is also promised as is a more prominent display of the “responsible gambling” messages that currently sit at the bottom of all advertising.

The Senet Group will launch fully in January when, according to spokesman, it has built up its “resources, team and operations”.  All of the other major gambling brands have been invited to join with discussions with some on-going, he adds. A spokesman for BetFred, one of the biggest that has yet to add its name, says: ”We have recently been made aware of the Senet Group and we are in discussions with them. Here at Betfred responsible gambling will always remain at the heart of our business.”

New signatories joining the group before the 1 October will be required to sign-up to the self-regulation already pledged by the four immediately while those signing up after will be given a grace period to comply.

The group will perform a similar function to alcohol industry body The Portman Group, which has its own marketing code of standards the majority of the industry adhere to.  It will not perform any of the functions of The Gambling Commission, the industry’s statutory regulator.

The gambling industry has come under scrutiny in recent years with pressure groups and politicians expressing concern that the increase in betting options and ads promoting them during live football matches could be damaging.

Advertising codes are currently under review. The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) is due to publish the results of its review of current codes by the year’s end, while ASA is reviewing whether it is reflecting “societal expectations” around gambling ads.

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