CAP and BCAP Issue New Guidelines on Gambling Advertisements

United Kingdom

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

As we reported in our last update, the ASA has upheld a number of complaints against gambling advertisements. Further to this, and in order to assist advertisers going forwards, CAP and BCAP (the committees responsible for the Codes that are then administered by the ASA) issued guidance on the interpretation of the rules relating to gambling advertisements.

Since February, the ASA has upheld 3 out of 6 complaints about advertisements for gambling operators. In considering these complaints, it seems that CAP and BCAP are of the view that some rules are easier to assess than others and have therefore issued guidance clarifying their interpretation of three particular rules: that advertisements should not (i) suggest gambling can provide an escape from personal, professional or educational problems; (ii) suggest that solitary gambling is preferable to social gambling; or (iii) exploit cultural beliefs or traditions about gambling or luck.

The full guidance is available here, and can be summarised as follows:

Escape from problems

  • featuring someone excited after a win or disappointed by a loss;
  • suggesting that (enjoyed responsibly) gambling can help relieve boredom.
  • suggesting that gambling can alleviate mental distress;
  • portraying extreme contrasts in emotion before and after gambling.

Solitary gambling

  • depicting solitary gambling online.
  • contrasting solitary gambling favourably with social gambling;
  • featuring adults losing track of time, shunning the company of others, retreating into private fantasy or engaging in secretive gambling.

Cultural beliefs or traditions

  • featuring symbols or obsolete superstitions which are unlikely to be taken seriously (e.g. a clover leaf).
  • using cultural symbols and systems which relate to an existing, strongly and communally held belief (e.g. horoscopes).