Responsibility and problem gambling guidance

CAP and BCAP have published a dedicated piece of guidance on gambling advertising, setting new standards to ensure that ads remain responsible with a particular focus on mitigating potential harms associated with problem gambling.

Advertisers need to ensure that their ads are in line with the guidance by 2 April. From that date, the ASA will start to use it to interpret and apply the UK Advertising Codes’ rules on gambling.

As with all our guidance, the aim is to make clearer what’s likely to be acceptable and what’s not. Based on a review of the evidence we’ve added to existing guidance provisions quite considerably.

A change in ‘tone’

The new guidance focuses on the ‘tone’ of ads; something that’s been the focus of concerns for politicians and in the press over recent months.

In essence, advertisers need to be more careful with the messages they use. Based on evidence, we’re targeting risk factors – claims, imagery or marketing approaches – that could unduly influence vulnerable groups to behave irresponsibly.

Significant new provisions:

  • Restricting ads that create an inappropriate sense of urgency like those including “Bet Now!” offers during live events.
  • Curbing trivialisation of gambling (e.g. encouraging repetitive play).
  • Preventing approaches that give an irresponsible perception of the risk or control (e.g. “Risk Free Deposit Bonus”).
  • Providing greater detail on problem gambling behaviours and associated behaviours indicators that should not be portrayed, even indirectly.
  • Preventing undue emphasis on money-motives for gambling.

Thinking about vulnerability

Most audiences will contain groups that are more vulnerable than others to harm; the guidance focuses strongly on protecting problem gamblers and those at risk because of the evident potential for harm to occur. But it’s not just classifiable groups. We’re all in our way susceptible to appeals to our self-image, our insecurities or concerns in life.

Gambling advertisers must exercise caution when preparing campaigns to avoid anything that could unduly influence people to behave irresponsibly.

Going forward

Gambling advertising will continue to be under heightened scrutiny both from regulators and in public debates. That’s why it’s important that you do everything to get things right. Our Copy Advice service can provide fast, free pre-publication advice on non-broadcast advertising and our AdviceOnline database features more guidance on specific gambling-related advertising issues.

Later this year, we’ll be producing a second, dedicated piece of guidance to complement this one. It will focus on the equally important issue of protecting children and young people – so watch this space.

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