The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has committed to making sure that 20% of TV and radio advertisements from its members are safer gambling adverts.
In April, BGC members voluntarily removed all TV and radio product advertising for a period of six weeks during the lockdown. Writing on Politics Home, BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher explained that the trade association plans to continue its commitment to safer gambling.
He wrote: “What’s important to me, as CEO of the new standards body, is that people are able to gamble safely and that the regulated industry is committed to the highest possible standards. That means that when it comes to advertising, we also need the highest possible standards.
“That is why during lockdown, when people were confined to their houses, increasing their screen time, often feeling isolated and bored, and for many with financial uncertainty, there was a need for even greater levels of safer gambling and an added layer of sensitivity around advertising.
“At the end of April, our industry went further and announced restrictions on gaming advertising. As a result, pre-booked advertising slots were devoted to safer gambling messaging, donated to a charity, or removed completely. I had hoped that remaining major gambling operators like the National Lottery would follow our lead, but that sadly didn’t happen.”
Dugher emphasised that there is a ‘balance’ to be achieved between advertising and responsibility, and so BGC members will ‘continue to abide by the stringent measures which are already put in place by advertising standards watchdogs’.
He continued: “This agreement by BGC members comes to an end today, but the industry’s commitment to responsible advertising and promoting safer gambling will continue.
“To that end, our members – who account for around half of all gambling advertising on TV and radio in the UK – will ensure that at least 20 per cent of all advertising on TV and radio will be safer gambling adverts.
“In response to public concern, we voluntarily introduced a ‘whistle-to-whistle’ ban on TV advertising around all live sport.This means that, for any live sports before 9pm, from five minutes before an event starts, during it and until five minutes after it ends, no betting adverts can appear. It is worth remembering, incidentally, that there are no restrictions on National Lottery advertising at any time of day.
“No doubt prohibitionists from the anti-gambling lobby will say that the advertising restrictions on our members do not go far enough.”
In addition to the 20% of safer gambling adverts, Dugher revealed that the BGC has called for further action to be taken on the Online Harms Bill, which will see the Government crack down on those promoting unregulated betting sites.
Through collaboration with third parties such as technology platforms and charities, BGC plans to ‘raise awareness of the measures available to tailor the adverts that we, our children and other vulnerable people see’.
A Code of Conduct for affiliates will also be developed, while requests will be made to encourage the licensing of affiliates by the UK Gambling Commission.
Dugher concluded: “In the coming weeks and months, millions of us will fancy a flutter – whether that’s on Royal Ascot or a bet on the Merseyside derby – and the vast majority will do so happily and safely. The BGC is determined that every possible step is taken to make sure that continues to be the case.
“As we happily begin to ease our way out of lockdown, we will continue to have our foot on the gas when it comes to our commitment to safer gambling – including responsible advertising.”