Advertising regulator lays out stricter standards for gambling ads

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) – the UK’s advertising regulator – has today announced new, stricter standards on gambling adverts, with a focus on adverts that prey on problem gamblers and ads that feature free bet or bonus offers.

CAP logo

The Committees for Advertising Practice has given operators until April 2 to adhere to the new standards. © alimentarius.

The new standards will enter into force on 2 April 2018 and look to bring an end to adverts that carry ‘an inappropriate sense of urgency’ such as ‘Bet Now’ offers, adverts that trivialise gambling, and adverts that do not accurately convey associated risk, for example offers advertised as ‘risk free’.

Moving forward, operators must not focus on or emphasise money or monetary gains as a motivational factor in gambling and offer much more detail towards problem gambling behaviour and help for problem gamblers.

The new guidelines were published in accordance with the CAP’s commitment to the UK Government’s proposals for changes to Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures.

Despite noting that reviewed evidence showed advertising does not significantly affect or cause problem gambling, evidence does point to potential risks being caused by advertising that could lead to irresponsible behaviour.

As such, the CAP has set stricter standards to mitigate this risk and the potential of harm being caused through irresponsible advertising.

The CAP plans to publish guidance towards protecting children and young people later in the year.

Director of the CAP, Shahriar Coupal, said:

We won’t tolerate gambling ads that exploit people’s vulnerabilities or play fast and loose with eye-catching free bet and bonus offers. Our new guidance takes account of the best available evidence to strengthen the protections already in place, ensuring that gambling is presented responsibly, minimising the potential for harm.Shahriar Coupal, Director of The Committees of Advertising Practice.

Free bets and bonus offers to be reigned in

Central to the new standards are how operators are able to advertise free bet or bonus offers.

Terms and conditions associated with each offer must be clearly displayed alongside or at most one click away from being accessed, while significant conditions – those deemed central to a customer’s understanding of an offer, such as in relation to depositing, restrictions, or other requirements – must be clearly and prominently displayed next to an offer.

Money back offers must also refer to cash and not bonuses, while risk free offers must ensure no loss to the consumer can be incurred. With matched bets, stake limitations are to be a significant condition and must be stated clearly upfront.

These new standards towards free bets and bonuses enter into effect immediately as of today, 14 February 2018.

The CAP, together with the UK Gambling Commission and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) had already written to operators back in October 2017 urging them to remove advertising that would appeal to those under the legal gambling age.

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