BGC unveils tough new measures to protect under-18s from online gambling adverts

United Kingdom

The Betting and Gambling Council (BGC) has unveiled a host of new rules designed to protect children and young people from gambling advertising in the Sixth Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising. The latest version of the Code  includes new measures which reflect the outcomes agreed as part of the working party established by the Gambling Commission to look into the uses of advertising technology in the gambling sector.

From 1 October 2020:

  • BGC members must target all sponsored or paid for social media adverts at consumers aged 25 or over, unless the relevant website can prove its adverts can be precisely targeted at those aged 18 and over;
  • BGC members will have to post frequent responsible gambling posts on their Twitter accounts;
  • gambling adverts appearing on search engines must make clear that they are designed for those aged 18 and over and promote safer gambling messages; and
  • access to gambling ads on YouTube will be restricted to users with age-verified accounts.

Michael Dugher, the chief executive of the BGC, emphasised the BGC’s “zero tolerance attitude to under-18s betting” and called on the Government to assist in ensuring that “the big internet platforms honour their responsibilities to protect people online” via the forthcoming Online Harms Bill.

This news comes shortly after the ASA published the findings from its latest online monitoring sweep, which revealed that over 70 age-restricted gambling ads (from four – as of yet - unidentified operators) had been shown on websites attracting a disproportionately high child audience.

The ASA is taking follow-up action against the four operators and has urged advertisers to review and amend their ad-targeting policies in the wake of this. The ASA’s audit is the first of four quarterly monitoring exercises due to be undertaken over the next twelve months. Operators would therefore be wise to consider their approaches to ensuring that their ads aren’t targeted at under-18s generally, in addition to how they will comply with the specific measures in the BGC’s new Code.

Article co-authored by Jack Rigelsford.