‘Proactive’ work needed to ensure gambling ads are responsible

The advertising watchdog says it will do more to “proactively” ensure gambling ads are responsible and are not contributing to excessive levels of gambling despite insisting that current roles provide the right level of protection for young and vulnerable people.

The announcement is part of a conclusion to a review prompted by the Government in March aimed at looking into whether new restrictions around gambling advertising are required. As part of that the Advertising Standards Authority was asked to report into whether existing rules are enforced “proportionately” and the Committee of Advertising Practice, which writes the rules the ASA enforces, to see whether exist restriction are robust enough.

The CAP says its evidence shows the impact of gambling on young people and those with problem gambling behaviour is “limited”. This despite the fact that bookmakers including Ladbrokes, Coral and William Hill have all had ads banned in recent months for promoting irresponsible attitudes to gambling.

For its part, the ASA says it will focus on ensuring gambling advertising is responsible in three ways

  • Producing enhanced guidance for advertisers.
  • Working with experts to ensure the rules identify and address particular risks and vulnerabilities.
  • Working with other regulators to expand and improve its evidence.

Shahriar Coupal, director of the CAP, says: “We know gambling can be a contentious issue which is why there are strict rules in place to ensure it’s advertised responsibly. While our review shows that our regulation of gambling ads is effective, we’re staying vigilant and will act where evidence shows that children or vulnerable people might be at risk.”

The gambling industry has come under increasing scrutiny as pressure groups and politicians express concerns over the increase in betting options and ads promoting them during sporting events and broadcasts where children might be exposed to the messages.

In an attempt to quell those concerns, four of the biggest UK bookmakers have promised to set up their own self regulatory body. The plans include pledges to stop advertising start-up offers before the watershed and commit a fifth of shop window space to responsible gambling ads.

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