The government’s long-awaited review of the gambling sector has finally revealed the actions it intends to take to minimise consumer harm after a year-long call for evidence. They include new advertising guidance from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), but no restrictions on the volume of ads or the times when they can be shown on TV.
According to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the new guidance to be drawn up by the Committees of Advertising Practice will “help protect those at risk of problem gambling, and children and young people, by ensuring that the content of gambling adverts does not encourage impulsive or socially irresponsible gambling”.
This is expected to be published next year, but the ASA says that it will also unveil new guidance on how gambling brands use promotional offers and affiliates before the end of 2017. This is likely to include practical examples of how the gambling rules apply, to provide clarification for marketers.
The ASA recently banned affiliate ads run on behalf of Ladbrokes, SkyBet, Casumo and 888, which suggested gambling could help a man fund his wife’s cancer treatment. New ASA chairman Lord Currie told Marketing Week last week: “[The affiliate ads] were in a bad place because they were causing deep offence. Being tough on those sorts of ads is what the ASA can do.”
The ASA says the development of new guidance “runs in tandem with and complements the Gambling Review rather than being prompted by it”, and its response to the DCMS consultation stated any government intervention in advertising regulation would “be disproportionate and would have no significant impact on harm”. The Advertising Association similarly argued that current advertising rules can be trusted to “regulate the sector proportionately and responsibly”.
New responsible gambling campaign
In addition to the new advertising guidance, the gambling sector will have to fund a new two-year campaign to encourage responsible behaviour that will be run by charity GambleAware with assistance from the Advertising Association, broadcasters and gambling industry groups. It will have a budget of between £5m and £7m per year and include TV, radio, cinema, online and print activity.
Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware says: “We should treat gambling related harm as a public health problem, like alcohol or obesity, working on prevention as well as treatment. We’re delighted to be asked to lead a new, independent, multimillion-pound campaign to help raise awareness of the risks and the free help available.
“We need to get better at spotting problems before they reach crisis point, protect children with better education about risks and equip industry staff with the confidence to intervene and support vulnerable customers.”
This activity will run alongside the gambling industry’s existing campaign promoting responsible gambling, entitled ‘When the fun stops, stop’. Launched in 2015, it is funded by the Senet Group, which represents the UK’s biggest betting brands including Ladbrokes, William Hill and Paddy Power. Its messaging will, however, be brought “in line with the wider campaign”, a statement from the Advertising Association says.
Other outcomes of the government review include a consultation to limit the maximum stake allowed on fixed-odds betting machines at between £2 and £50.