The UK’s advertising watchdog has introduced new rules that ban gambling firms from using ‘influential’ individuals in their advertising campaigns.
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) have implemented the new regulations in order to protect minors and other vulnerable groups, and while the genesis of the new rules was to prevent betting firms from using sports stars in their ads, casino operators will also have to fall in line with the measures.
CAP’s new rules also govern against the use of celebrities, TV stars from the likes of Love Island, social media influencers and anyone ‘likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture’.
We’ve announced tough new rules which significantly restrict the imagery and references gambling ads are allowed to use.
— ASA (@ASA_UK) April 5, 2022
The new measures are a toughening of the watchdog’s previous stance, in which ads from gambling brands were not allowed to feature people or imagery that is of ‘particular appeal’ to minors – regardless of how it may be viewed by adults.
The director of CAP, Shahriar Coupal, was looking forward to a ‘new era’ of promotional material in the sector.
“The days of gambling ads featuring sports stars, video game imagery and other content of strong appeal to under-18s are numbered,” he said.
“By ending these practices, our new rules invite a new era for gambling ads, more particular to the adult audience they can target and more befitting of the age-restricted product they’re promoting.”
Sending the Right Message
Any operator involved in the gambling and lottery sector will have to adhere to the new regulations, with fines and other sanctions likely for those that try to get around the rules.
Firms have until October of this year to decommission any marketing materials featuring an influential individual. The rules apply to all forms of media, including TV, radio, online and print, and have been brought in at this time to combat the issues that might arise from promotional content ahead of the football World Cup this winter.
“This [the rule changes] might not seem immediately significant, but its effect – particularly in a World Cup year – will be dramatic,” Coupal confirmed.
The likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho and Harry Redknapp have appeared in ads for gambling brands in the past, while Love Island star Chris Hughes – a prominent part of the ITV Racing team these days – has also acted as an ‘ambassador’ for a popular UK bookmaking firm.
The government’s own rules, overseen by the Advertising Standards Agency, prevent anyone under the age of 25 (or if they appear to be under 25) from starring in a gambling-focused advert, while 90% of UK-facing gambling firms have signed up to the Betting and Gaming Council’s ‘Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising’.