Gambling advertising legislation to change on 1 September 2007

United Kingdom

This article was produced by Olswang LLP, which joined with CMS on 1 May 2017.

On 13 March 2007, the UK Committee of Advertising Practice ("CAP") and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice ("BCAP") published the new CAP and BCAP Gambling Advertising Rules (the "Rules") which are to come into force on 1 September 2007.

The new Rules will regulate gambling advertising on television and radio, which will be permitted for the first time when the Gambling Act 2005 (the "Act") comes into force. The publication of the Rules follows a two month public consultation which ended in September 2006, and it appears that only a few amendments have been made to the version of the advertising rules which was initially proposed. One notable change, however, is the fact that the Rules no longer apply to the UK National Lottery scheme.

The principal focus of the Rules is to ensure that advertisers take a socially responsible approach to gambling advertising so that young and vulnerable persons are protected. In broad terms, the Rules stipulate that, in order to avoid referral to the Gambling Commission or Ofcom, advertisements for gambling websites, casinos and betting shops must not:
  • exploit the susceptibilities, aspirations, credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge of children, young persons or other vulnerable persons;
  • link gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness;
  • suggest that gambling can provide an escape from personal or financial problems;
  • be of particular appeal to children or young persons e.g. by reflecting youth culture; or
  • be directed at under-18s or feature anyone who is, or seems to be, under 25 years old in the advertisements.
Not surprisingly, gambling operators have supported the new legislative framework which the Act will introduce, but other bodies have criticised the government's decision to liberalise this area of law. Religious groups in particular have expressed concerns that allowing gambling advertising will serve to hasten the growth of problem gambling in the UK. CAP and BCAP have responded to this concern by stating that the Rules include strict scheduling restrictions and that all advertisements will have to be prepared in a socially responsible manner. Casinos, betting shops and gambling websites can now look forward to advertising their services on UK television and radio in accordance with such rules from 1 September. Further details can be found at https://www.asa.org.uk/search.html?q=gambling.

In addition, the Commission plans to publish the results of its consultation on gambling advertisements in May 2007. That consultation considered whether gambling advertisements should contain messages that aim to prevent problem gambling, for example warning messages or educational messages, and whether gambling operators should display their licensed status on gambling advertisements. It also addressed the issue of sponsorship on children's clothing, particularly in relation to sports clothing.