Don’t gamble with under-18s ad protections

The UK Advertising Codes have long contained key protections for those under the legal age to gamble. While evidence suggests that exposure to gambling ads that comply with the UK’s Advertising Codes is, of itself, unlikely to harm under-18s; targeted restrictions are still required to address the potential risks associated with irresponsible advertising.

While the advertising rules don’t need to change, CAP and BCAP have introduced new guidance on gambling advertising and protecting children and young people to strengthen how they apply in practice.

These standards come into force on 1 April 2019 and:

  • Prohibit online ads for gambling products being targeted at groups of individuals who are likely to be under 18 based on data about their online interests and browsing behaviour;
  • Extensively list unacceptable types of content, including certain types of animated characters, licensed characters from movies or TV and sportspeople and celebrities that are likely to be of particular appeal to children, and references to youth culture;
  • Prohibit the use in gambling ads of sportspersons, celebrities or other characters who are or appear to be under 25; and
  • Adds to existing guidance on the responsible targeting of ads, covering all media (including social networks and other online platforms).

Gambling ads are a continuing area of focus for the ASA so if you’re involved in the marketing of gambling services, make sure you’re up to date on the standards expected.  You should, for example, take particular care in online environments. The platforms may be new, but the same principles apply. When using social media, you need to ensure that you’ve used the tools available to you to ensure your ads don’t get served to under-18s or accounts and profiles that have interests or behaviours that suggest the individual might be.  CAP has already produced specific guidance on this, alongside more general guidance on non-broadcast ad placement.

You also need to be careful around ads in social media and online games. These should not be used to promote real-money gambling to under-18s and where they contain ads, those ads must comply with the placement restrictions detailed above.

In terms of ad content, you can also find further advice on particular appeal to children in our article here and our AdviceOnline entry here, and advice on featuring under-25s here

If you have any questions or would like advice on your non-broadcast ads, you can contact our Copy Advice team here.


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