What does the Audio Visual Media Directive mean for gambling advertising?

The regulation of gambling advertising on television and other audio visual media services has become a hot topic in the revision of the Audio Visual Media Services Directive.

On 25 May 2016, the European Commission published a proposal for a revised Directive. The Commission proposes to extend the regulatory regime currently applied to traditional television broadcasting to on-demand services and also to impose new rules on video-sharing platforms. While the proposal also updates existing rules on advertising, product placement and sponsorship, it does not propose to extend the categories of products to which restrictions must be applied – currently alcohol, tobacco and medicines – to include gambling services.

However, during the course of the legislative process in the European Parliament, various proposals have been put forward to regulate the advertising of gambling services. These range from an outright ban on such advertising to requiring it to comply with the rules in the country targeted by the broadcaster, rather than the country where the broadcaster is established (which is the norm under the Directive). The revision of the Directive may thus risk jeopardising principles set out in case law and existing Commission policy, which has enabled advertising of regulated offers.

Given the political pressures around gambling advertising generally, it remains to be seen for how long the sector can dodge this particular bullet.