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Gambling advertising: regulation in Great Britain

Published Friday, November 10, 2017

This Library briefing paper looks at gambling advertising in Great Britain.

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Gambling operators selling into the British market must have a Gambling Commission licence to transact with, and advertise to, British consumers.

The Gambling Commission’s licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP)  require gambling operators to comply with the Advertising Codes, administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The Codes are designed to ensure that gambling adverts do not:

  • portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm
  • exploit the susceptibilities, aspirations, credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge of children, young persons or other vulnerable persons
  • suggest that gambling can be a solution to financial concerns
  • link gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness
  • be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture
  • feature anyone gambling or playing a significant role in an advert if they are under 25 years old (or appear to be under 25)

Gambling operators should also comply with an Industry Code for Socially Responsible Gambling, maintained by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling. This features as good practice in the Gambling Commission's LCCP.

In response to public concern about problem gambling, the gambling industry has taken a number of voluntary measures to make advertising more socially responsible.

In October 2016, the DCMS published a review of gaming machines and social responsibility measures. This sought views on gambling advertising and whether the existing rules were appropriate to protect children and vulnerable people.

What now?

On 31 October 2017, following its analysis of responses to the October 2016 review, the DCMS announced a range of proposals to strengthen protections around gambling. These include the following on gambling advertising:

  • The Committee of Advertising Practice to produce new guidance to help protect those at risk of problem gambling, children and young people, by ensuring that the content of gambling adverts does not encourage impulsive or socially irresponsible gambling.
  • The Gambling Commission to encourage social media companies, with GambleAware support, to develop user-friendly guides on how people can limit their exposure to gambling advertising by using settings and preferences within the platforms.
  • GambleAware, broadcasters and gambling industry groups to draw up a two year responsible gambling advertising campaign.
  • New research, commissioned by GambleAware, on the effects of marketing and advertising on children, young people and vulnerable groups.

consultation on the proposals closes on 23 January 2018.




Commons Briefing papers CBP-7428

Author: John Woodhouse

Topic: Gambling

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