UK Gambling advertising laws to be scrapped

A ban on TV and radio adverts for casinos, betting shops and online gambling sites is to be scrapped. The new revised rules will come into operation in September 2007, as part of the Gambling Act 2005.

The new law will incorporate clauses in the area of marketing communications for “play for money” gambling products and “play for free” gambling products that offer the chance to win a prize, or that explicitly or implicitly directs the consumer to a “play for money” gambling product, whether on-shore or off-shore.

Minister for Sport Richard Caborn said “The government would monitor the changes and step in if problems arose. The restrictions are needed to protect children and other vulnerable groups”. But he added: “If they are insufficient to ensure proper public protection, the government will consider using its additional powers to impose further restrictions.”

Some forms of gambling are already exempt from the ban, including the National Lottery, but spread betting can be promoted as an “investment activity” under Financial Services Authority rules, and bingo halls, football pools and amusement arcades can advertise as long as they adhere to guidelines.

From September, advertisers must stick to a set of rules designed to ensure they are socially responsible. They must not, for example, depict gambling as a solution to debt problems. Adverts must not show gamblers behaving in a way which is irresponsible or could lead to financial, social, or emotional harm. Adverts will be banned during shows aimed at under 18’s, and anyone who is, or seems to be, under 25 years old may not be featured gambling or playing a significant role. No-one may behave in an adolescent, juvenile or loutish way. And as with alcohol, anyone promoting gambling must not link it to sexual success or enhanced self-image.

The new rules were drawn up by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP).

Under the new laws, advertising will be policed by the Advertising Standards Authority, and any breach could be referred to the Gambling Commission or the regulator Ofcom who could impose sanctions.

Nicola Crewe-Reade, from addiction counseling service GamCare, which is funded by the gambling industry, also backed the changes. She said “We hope the outcome of these new standards will be to encourage people to see gambling as fun and entertaining rather than as a way of making your fortune.”

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