CAP rolls out new rules to stop advertisers targeting gambling ads at children

CAP moves to protect young people from irresponsible advertising

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), which is responsible for writing the UK advertising codes administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has rolled out new standards tooled to protect young people from "irresponsible gambling ads".

Following a review into advertising’s impact on under-18s, leaning on rulings from the ASA, CAP has outlined that "exposure to gambling ads that comply with the UK’s Advertising Codes is, of itself, unlikely to harm under-18s." But it has emphasised that it must impose restrictions on targeted ads to "address the potential risks".

Rather than changing the rules, it has set down standards it expects advertisers to follow.

Gambling products cannot be targeted at people who are likely to be under 18. Advertisers of gambling products are forbidden from leaning on licensed characters and cartoons that would appeal to children (as Labour deputy leader Tom Watson puts pressure on cereal brands to adopt this standard). The use of figures who appear to be under 25 is also forbidden in gambling ads.

Additional restrictions were put in place around social media targeting, the use of gambling influencers (under-18s are not likely to comprise more than 25% of the audience), gamification of gambling, and the use of affiliates.

Shahriar Coupal, director of CAP, said: "Playing at the margins of regulatory compliance is a gamble at the best of times, but for gambling advertisers, it’s particularly ill-advised, especially when the welfare of children is at stake. Our new standards respond to the latest evidence and lessons from ASA rulings, and require that greater care is taken in the placement and content of gambling ads to ensure they are not inadvertently targeted at under 18s."

The standards will be in play from April 2019.

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