UK gambling adopts toughest online advertising code to protect underage audiences

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has this morning revealed its new industry measures preventing under-18 audiences from viewing gambling adverts through online media verticals.

This story featured in today’s SBC News 90. To view the latest round-up, watch today’s edition here.

The new measures will form part of the BGC’s newly published ‘Sixth Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising’ which will be adopted and self-enforced by its members from 1 October.

The BGC’s headline directive sees members agree to ensure that all sponsored or paid social media adverts target consumer aged 25 over unless a website can prove its inventory can be precisely targeted at over 18s.

Further digital safeguards will require operators to ensure that all gambling-related adverts listed on search engines make it clearly visible that their content is for over 18s and must feature safer gambling messaging.

On video sharing platforms such as YouTube, betting operators will only be allowed to display adverts to users who have verified their age guaranteeing that the target audience is over 18.

Adopting its new code, the BGC underlined its members commitment and determination to drive up standards and consumer safeguards within the betting and gaming industry.

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC, said: “As the new standards body for the regulated sector, we are committed to driving up standards within the betting and gaming industry.

“We have made excellent progress in recent times and the Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising is updated as technology evolves. The latest edition is further evidence of our determination to continue to ensure that standards are rising and are as high as they can possibly be”.

BGC members (excluding the National Lottery) will move to adopt a new industry code, as yesterday the Advertising Standards Association (ASA) published its first ‘online monitoring sweep’ – identifying age-restricted adverts that have been published within children’s digital media.

Alongside junk food, gambling advertisers were reported to have displayed the highest number of non-compliant adverts to underage audiences, with ASA recording 70 gambling advertising breaches significantly higher than alcohol and tobacco related content.

The BGC underlines that UK gambling has progressed significantly on its mandate related to responsible advertising practices, highlighting betting’s whistle-to-whistle ban on TV advertising during sports programming which has delivered a 97% drop in betting ads viewed by children.

This May, the BGC announced that it would establish industry working groups to collaborate with advertising bodies and media owners in developing new adtech solutions to ensure the best safeguards protecting underage and vulnerable audiences from viewing gambling related content.

Backing the industry’s progress on fulfilling its responsibility mandate, Dugher stated “BGC members have a zero tolerance attitude to under-18s betting, and from requirements for safer gambling messages to restrictions on YouTube advertising, this new code shows how seriously the BGC, who represent regulated betting but not the National Lottery, take our responsibilities.

“At the same time, we urge the Government to work with us to crack down on black market operators who have no interest in safer gambling or protecting their customers and do not work to the same responsible standards as BGC members.

“It is vital that the big internet platforms honour their responsibilities to protect people online and we hope the Government will use its forthcoming Online Harms Bill to that effect. The Review of the Gambling Act will also provide further opportunities to improve standards and we look forward to working with the Government on this”.

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