UK Gambling Operators Propose Voluntary Restrictions to Advertising

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Staff member
May 3, 2008
UK’s online gambling giants agreed on discussing the advertising problem with the aim to put voluntary restrictions on their planned advertising campaigns due to the increasing political pressure for a huge gambling advertising crackdown. Pressure from both the public and the parliament for an introduction of stricter regulations for the UK's gambling industry, as well as the fixed-odds betting terminals, stake cut to £2 from £100.00 forced industry’s giants to meet and discuss their own proposals in order to prevent more serious restrictions.

The Board of the Remote Gambling Association, which includes names like Bet365, William Hill, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes, will meet and put their heads together in order to solve the problem with the new advertising code they are required to comply with.

UK Gambling Commission’s Decisions

UK Gambling Commission made some changes regarding the gambling ads not so long ago. In fact, the changes came into effect from October 31, 2018. The UKGC said that these changes were necessary and implemented as part of the plan for a crackdown in order to make it easier for regulators to prevent rule violations and take action when such violations take place. The Chief Executive Officer of UKGC, Neil McArthur warned the gambling operators their advert material was dangerous to vulnerable and young people and urged them to use advertising moderately since the gambling has become popular mostly among younger generations.

The new advertising rules are basically aimed for the purpose of protecting players from gambling-related problems, which most often than not, lead to suicides and other harms. The rules were officially put to the License Conditions and Codes of Practice on October 31st, 2018. But even before they came into effect, the restrictions were a widely-discussed, hot topic. The rules required a ‘moderate’ advertising, yet the number of ads by most of the bookmakers has increased, despite the UKGC's warnings.

Two weeks ago, the CEO of the UK Gambling Commission issued a statement saying that the commission wants to, not just intervene when some things go the other way, but also support the gambling industry in raising standards, and act only when they are required.

RGA’s Agenda

Now, the leading gambling operators started considering to become more included and engaged with responsible advertising so they could avoid any further and maybe even more serious measures imposed by the gambling regulators.

The planned discussions reflect the gambling industry's awareness of the gambling-related problems and show that they are well aware of the anti-gambling campaigners. They will gather up in order to take effective action to avoid even tougher measures from gambling regulators and do everything in their power to contribute to the community by becoming engaged with the changes in the code for voluntary advertising.

Rumour has it the RGA will propose a full set of measures on their own, with the aim to restrict TV gambling advertising. They will reportedly propose a complete ban on adverts by gambling operators from live matches before the watershed, a suspension on in-play betting ads during live-broadcasted sports events and a restriction of the number of adverts to be aired during commercials, probably one slot per commercial break.

In fact, some giant gambling operators have already expressed their support of the idea of bringing about new restrictions to the gambling advertising sector. GVC Holdings backed the move to completely suspend gambling advertisements from live-broadcasted football matches before the 21:00 watershed in October, as part of their range of corporate social responsibility measures. Kenny Alexander, GVC Holding’s boss even acknowledged that there were far too many TV gambling ads, suggesting operators to collaboratively adopt new advertising standards.

Anti-Gambling Campaigners

Even with the forthcoming discussions by the 35-membered RGA, the FOBTs stake cut taking effect from April 2019, and the tax increase in October 2019, the anti-campaigners are still not satisfied and are still looking for reforms.

Campaigners will most certainly still attack the gambling industry and this may eventually lead to a reduction in the widely-played online slots’ stakes. Given their popularity, online slots are the first on the list for stake limits.

The board of Remote Gambling Association better come up with some rigorous self-restrictive rules, unless they want to face further changes in rules and limitations that could eventually take them out of business.

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