These changes follow work undertaken by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) as part of a wider review commissioned in 2014 by the then Secretary of State at DCMS into all aspects of gambling advertising.
The improvements to be made include:
- A requirement to have socially responsible gambling messages at the end of all television and radio adverts.
- The removal from pre-watershed television advertising of sign up offers that are targeted at new customers.
- Pre-watershed television advertising cannot make reference to other gambling products that would not normally qualify for pre-9.00pm exemption (such as casino or poker products)
- Improved prominence to be given to gambleaware.co.uk in all print and broadcast adverts.
- Reference to gambleaware.co.uk will now have to be included in all television programmes sponsorship undertaken by gambling operators.
- The inclusion of clear 18+ or ‘no under 18s’ messaging on all print and television adverts.
- New provisions to cover aspects of marketing on social media (for example, all gambling operators should have on their corporate webpages (i) responsible gambling messaging and (ii) links through to sources of more detailed information).
The improvements will form part of a revised version of the Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising Code and will be implemented within six months.
IGRG Chairman Barry Hardy said: “The review commissioned by the then Secretary of State has proved to be a very useful and timely exercise. It was one that the gambling industry welcomed and we have sought throughout to play a constructive role in it.
“In the hierarchy of regulation the Industry Code remains the junior partner, but as a responsible industry it is right that we should continue to work proactively to identify measures that supplement what is required of us by our regulators. The gambling industry has a responsibility to ensure that it takes all reasonable steps to minimise the extent of problem gambling and to prevent underage gambling from taking place. Socially responsible advertising is essential if that is to be achieved.
“The changes to the Code will add to the safeguards that are already in place and will further raise awareness of the need for consumers to keep their gambling fully under control. The possibility of additional improvements remains open and we will be instigating an ongoing review programme.”
The Code was originally produced in 2007. Among its most significant measures were (i) the 9.00pm television watershed for all gambling products except for bingo and sports betting around televised sports events; (ii) the requirement for advertisements to carry information about the Gamble Aware website; and (iii) the removal of sponsoring operators’ logos from all children’s merchandise, such as replica football kits.
However, while the Industry Code provides a benchmark for the industry, operators can, and frequently do, go beyond its requirements.
Wanda Goldwag, Independent Standards Commissioner for the independent gambling watchdog Senet Group, said: “We welcome the tightening of the Code, which should contribute to reducing potential gambling-related harm. In particular, the requirement that free-bet incentives to new customers be prohibited on TV before 9pm is an excellent move to reduce the exposure of children and young people to such incitements and is consistent with the rule that our members have voluntarily had in place since October 2014.
“We look forward to working with operators from all parts of the gambling sector on further measures we are developing to reduce potential gambling harm. Self-regulation can introduce changes quickly to ensure best practice across the industry.”