TV and radio gambling ads that 'exploit people’s vulnerabilities' banned by watchdog

Ladbrokes' latest ad work again featuring Chris Kamara

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has published updated guidelines to clamp down on bad gambling ad practices that target vulnerable bettors with urgent calls to action, bonuses and promotions.

The CAP, sister group to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), has laid down fresh standards following a series of recommendations from the UK government.

As such, UK gambling brands will need to meet these tenets when producing ads for TV or radio, or face the prospect of a ban from the watchdog.

The drive has been designed to prevent gambling spots from harming UK consumers, and it will affect any ads which create an inappropriate sense of urgency – like those which implore audiences to 'Bet Now!' during live events.

The shakedown from CAP and the ASA, will also restrict work that trivialises repetitive betting habits and promotions which flout reduced risk, such as 'Risk Free Deposit Bonus' drives. Furthermore, brands will be restricted from portraying money-based motives to bet and the guidelines offer even more information how to protect vulnerable groups.

The CAP reported that it found that advertising "does not play a causal or even significant role in problem gambling or harm in general," adding that problem gambling has stayed at a stable level since advertisers were given more freedom and upped their spend significantly since the 2005 Gambling Act.

It added that the impact of gambling advertising is "small" but that the risk factor is greatly increased with ad claims, imagery or approaches that encourage irresponsible behaviour. To this end, ads must now stray away from exploiting issues like financial concerns, self-esteem, or other ideas that could prey on vulnerable groups.

Shahriar Coupal, director of CAP, 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.”

On the changes, a spokesperson from Ladbrokes, said: "Ladbrokes Coral welcomes the clarification on advertising rules for the industry. As founding members of Senet we have always acknowledged that advertising was a key issue for the perception of the industry and took voluntary measures ahead of regulation on reigning back on certain offers.

"Consistently applied we believe that the new rules can help the industry and customers.”

A spokesperson from William Hill shared the following: "Our chief executive Philip Bowcock has gone on the record to say there is too much advertising of gambling and that the tone of much of the advertising is too aggressive.

"To that end we would support many of these changes. We do a great deal to assist those who may have problems with their gambling and also to identify those at risk including using algorithms to detect at risk behaviour and sending tailored messages to people to warn them."

Tracey Crouch, minister for sport and civil society, said: "It is important that we continue to monitor gambling advertising to ensure that people are protected from the risk of gambling related harm, so this is a very welcome move from the Committees of Advertising Practice. It follows our gambling review published last with its strong focus on the importance of social responsibility from the industry."

The new standards will come into effect on 2 April 2018 and will be adopted by the ASA when assessing complaints.

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