‘No magic bullet’ for gambling advertising regulation, experts say

With the government’s gambling whitepaper expected imminently, could a ban on gambling ads lead betting brands to ramp up marketing in other areas?

“There is no magic bullet,” when it comes to addressing gambling advertising concerns, according to Andrew Taylor, executive policy officer at the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP).

Speaking this week at a Westminster media forum event addressing the next steps for gambling reform and regulation in the UK, Taylor explained how there isn’t a simple answer to the thorny issue of gambling advertising and marketing, ahead of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s gambling whitepaper, which is expected imminently.

“A ban on advertising would displace a load of revenue to go into other marketing activities, and ultimately advertising is only one part of operator behaviour,” Taylor said.

Premier League clubs ditch front-of-shirt gambling sponsorsIf betting brands were no longer able to advertise how they currently do, he suggested this would simply “free up marketing budgets” to be invested in other activities such as promotions and offers.

Taylor was responding to a question from Dan Waugh, partner at gambling research firm Regulus Partners, who asked whether there is an opportunity for advertisers to use their advertising to have a positive affect on consumer behaviour. “Or do they always have to ban things?” he asked.

“There is no one solution. There are lots of different solutions,” said Taylor, who explained how CAP’s advertising codes follow Gambling Commission guidelines and the Gambling Act 2005.

“We don’t encourage things which are seen to be beneficial in the positive sense, we’re simply there to stop bad ads, to stop irresponsible ads,” he said. “But at the same time, there is scope, as with any sector, for responsibility initiatives.”

Gambling brands banned from using sports stars in adsTaylor explained CAP doesn’t exist to “mandate certain warnings or try and modify behaviour through certain messaging”, but he added there’s scope for it, given the “complicated impact” of marketing and advertising across different groups and different individuals. “That means you need a textured and responsive approach,” he added.

The Gambling Commission’s director of policy, Ian Angus, believes “better data, better research and better evidence will lead to better regulation and better outcomes for consumers, industry and everyone else involved in gambling”.

When asked whether gambling should be regulated in a similar way to other harmful activities such as smoking, Angus said, “we do not consider gambling to be aligned with tobacco”.

Earlier this month, Premier League football clubs agreed to ban gambling brands from the front of matchday shirts, following consultations with the government.

Clubs will still be allowed to have gambling sponsors on their shirt sleeves, and the new rules will not affect pitch-side advertising.