Gambling companies targeting the United Kingdom are going to have to watch their step come September 2007, when the new rules for gambling advertisements come into effect.
Currently, gambling advertising is largely restricted in non-broadcast forms of media, while advertising for casinos and betting shops is comprehensively prohibited in broadcast media. From September 2007, licensed casinos and betting in the United Kingdom, which for the first time includes remote gambling, will be given more freedom to advertise.
But those advertisements will be subject to strict new rules.
The U.K. Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) today released the new rules in anticipation of the Gambling Act coming into full force in September 2007. The publication of the rules follows a consultation from July to September 2006 that drew 83 responses from industry representatives, religious groups and charities.
The rules were designed to ensure that all gambling advertisements are socially responsible, particularly regarding the need to protect children and vulnerable members of society.
In view of the emphasis on protecting children, the rules state that both broadcast and non-broadcast advertisements for gambling services in the United Kingdom must not be likely to appeal to children or young persons by showing any images associated with youth culture.
Furthermore, the rules prohibit gambling advertisements from being directed at children in any form of media. Under the rules, television and radio advertisements will be banned during programs directed at those under 18. In addition, advertisements may not feature anyone who appears to be under 25.
The rules also state that advertisements may not: depict, condone or encourage gambling behavior that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm; suggest that gambling can be a solution to financial concerns; or link gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness.
Some forms of gambling are already exempt from the ban, including the National Lottery, and spread betting can be promoted as an "investment activity" under Financial Services Authority rules. Moreover, bingo halls, football pools and amusement arcades can advertise as long as they adhere to guidelines.
Minister for Sport Richard Caborn told the Times that the government would monitor the changes and step in if problems arose.
"They set out clearly what is and isn't acceptable advertising practice for all gambling operators, while making sure that the protection of children and vulnerable people is a central consideration of all advertising campaigns," Caborn said. "If they are insufficient to ensure proper public protection, the government will consider using its additional powers to impose further restrictions."
Advertisements will officially be monitored by the Advertising Standards Authority and any breach could be referred to the Gambling Commission or broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, who could impose sanctions, according to the CAP.
Online gambling companies, damaged by the loss of their lucrative positions in the U.S. market after the passage of the U.S. Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, are expected to take advantage of the relaxation, but are also conscious of being seen to promote responsible use, as demonstrated by a few major players in the industry.
Ladbrokes, William Hill, Gala Coral, Betfair and PartyGaming last week contributed to the Responsibility in Gambling Trust, helping it secure a £3 million ($5.78 million) fundraising goal and promised to fund its work over the next two years.
"The gambling industry has always prided itself on taking social responsibility very seriously," MP John Greenway, Chairman of the RIGT, said last week in a prepared statement. " … Better still, the industry collectively has agreed to fund our committed expenditure of £4.4 million [$8.4 million] in 2007/8 and £5.4 million [$10.4 million] in 2008/9 to enable the Trust to help deliver the social responsibility dimension of the Gambling Act 2005 when it takes effect this coming September."
CAP and BCAP Gambling Advertising Rules.
is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.