Use of Young Celebrities to be Banned in Gambling Advertising

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) has set out a new set of standards around gambling advertising.

From the 1st April, there will be a ban in gambling advertising on using young celebrities and sports stars who look under 25, as well as a ban on the use of certain animated characters and items which are likely to appeal to children.

Also, gambling operators must ensure that most of the audience of any social media influencer they work with is over 18.

The new standards will also prohibit advertising to groups who are likely to be children based on their browsing behaviours.

The Guidelines Operators Must Stick to

Social media is one area which will be under particular scrutiny. Operators must use every tool available to them to prevent adverts from being targeted to under 18s through social media.

It will be the responsibility of the brand to obtain data to ensure that no more than 25% of its audience are under 18.

Firms will also not be able to place any adverts on parts of websites which are popular with children, such as the young supporters’ pages of football clubs.

Another area of concern is games, which integrate scenarios that resemble gambling. Under the new guidelines, such games cannot be used to promote real money gambling.

Why the New Standards?

The new standards are part of the push towards responsible gambling. These new rulings are particularly geared towards protecting children and young people amid concerns over the widespread use of gambling adverts in all forms of media.

UKAT, a company which runs addiction treatment centres throughout the UK, estimated that every week around 370,000 children gamble with their own money. And, even more worryingly, they estimate that 25,000 of those are problem gamblers.

Another UK study estimated that 450,000 11 to 16-year-olds in the UK regularly gamble online.

Recent Developments

The new standards come after CAP’s first review since 2014 into the impact of gambling advertising on children. The review included complaints which have been made to the Advertising Standard Agency about particular gambling adverts:

  • An advert of ‘Lucky Wizard’ on the Coral website was banned due to its use of rainbows, pots of gold, wizards and leprechauns which might appeal to children
  • Six adverts on TGP Europe were banned because the names and animated imagery could attract children
  • A William Hill advert which appeared within a Mario Kart app was banned
  • Gambling adverts which appeared within the I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here app were also banned

Why Bonus Adverts are Safer

As ever, we like to cast our minds towards bonuses whenever we bring you any industry news. In our opinion, bonus adverts are generally safer than many other gambling adverts.

Much of the concern for regulators is around the characters, animations and people in gambling adverts which might appeal to children.

It is almost unheard of for a bonus avert to feature a celebrity or sports person or anything else which might attract children.

Bonus adverts show you exactly what you can enjoy, rather than using specific animations or people to reel you in. A 100 free spins, 100% matched deposit bonuses, £10 free credit… You get the picture.

Children are far more likely to be attracted to pictures and people rather than mere matter of fact words.

Hopes for the Future

The general consensus is that the gambling industry is not specifically targeting youngsters in the hope of enticing them into gambling.  

Still, whilst the CAP emphasises that there are not a huge number of young stars featuring in gambling adverts, they still recognise that there is a need for more control.  

Director of the Committees of Advertising Practice, Shariar Coupal had this to say about the new rulings:

“Our new standards respond to the latest evidence and lessons from ASA rulings, and require that greater care is taken in the placement and content of gambling ads to ensure they are not inadvertently targeted at under 18s.”

That is something we can all agree with.  

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