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Gambling advertising: regulation in Great Britain

Published Friday, March 1, 2019

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

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Since September 2007, when the Gambling Act 2005 came into force, betting and gaming companies have been able to advertise across all media in Great Britain.

Gambling operators selling into the British market must have a Gambling Commission licence to transact with, and advertise to, British consumers. The Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP, October 2018) 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)

Industry Code and initiatives

Gambling operators should also comply with an Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising. This features as good practice in the Gambling Commission’s LCCP.

A fifth edition was published in January 2019 and will come into force on 1 August 2019. The Code is maintained and reviewed by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG). As announced by the IGRG in December 2018, the fifth edition includes a “whistle to whistle” ban on advertising around live sport.

Government reviews

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) looked at gambling advertising in 2014, 2016 and 2017-18. In October 2017, DCMS published a range of proposals to strengthen protections around gambling. These included the launch of a responsible advertising campaign. The GambleAware charity commissioned research on the effects of marketing and advertising on young people and vulnerable groups. The research project ran until the beginning of 2019.

In a January 2019 PQ response, the DCMS said that it would “continue to monitor issues around [gambling] advertising and consider any new evidence carefully”.






Commons Briefing papers CBP-7428

Author: John Woodhouse

Topic: Gambling

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