BGC takes further steps to ensure gambling adverts are precisely targeted at over 18s

The Betting and Gaming Council has announced new measures to ensure that its members’ sponsored or paid for social media adverts are targeted at consumers aged 25 and over unless the website can prove its adverts can be precisely targeted at over 18s. These new rules will come in the form of a revised edition of the Industry Code for Socially Responsible Gambling (Industry Code).

This change to the Industry Code in the form of the sixth edition (which will come into force on 1 October) will no doubt, in part, be in response to the findings which the ASA recently published from its latest online monitoring sweep, which identified a number of instances in which gambling ads were falling foul of the advertising rules that require advertisers to target their ads away from children.

Whilst the ASA’s rules have not changed (rule 16.3.13 of the CAP Code has always placed an obligation on operators to ensure that their ads must not “be directed at those aged below 18 years…through the selection of media or context in which they appear”, this online monitoring sweep identifies a number of instances where gambling ads appeared on children’s websites and YouTube channels, identifying that ads were not always being targeted appropriately.

It is no surprise, therefore, that this new edition of the Industry Code will also provide that YouTube users will also have to use age-verified accounts before they can view gambling ads, guaranteeing that they cannot be seen by under-18s.

Other advertising measures brought in by this change in Industry Code include:

  • gambling ads appearing on search engines must make clear that they are for those aged 18 and over; and
  • paid for search listings will also need to include safer gambling messages; and
  • a requirement for 20 per cent of all TV and radio ads to be safer gambling messaging.

BGC members will also be required to post frequent responsible gambling messages on their Twitter accounts.

This update from the BGC came out at the same time as a reminder on the Gambling Ad Rules from the ASA aimed at promoting social responsibility, reminding operators, amongst other things, that gambling ads:

  • must not portray, condone or encourage behaviour that could lead to financial, social, or emotional harm, including by encouraging consumers to continue to gamble after a loss; imply that consumers can excel at poker without previous experience; or emphasise ‘any gambling buzz’ (although it is acknowledged that ‘limited excitement’ is OK);
  • must not exploit the susceptibilities, aspirations, credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge of children, young persons or other vulnerable persons, including by encouraging consumers to place higher bets to improve their chances of winning and suggesting that their luck could improve; and
  • must not show gambling taking priority in life.

Again, this is nothing new, but serves as a reminder around the content of advertising needing to be appropriate and socially responsible, as well as where it is placed. It also reminds operators that the ASA’s rules are broad and how they are interpreted should shape gambling advertising content policies on an ongoing basis.

Compliance with the Industry Code is imposed on operators through Ordinary Code 5.1.8 of the LCCP.

The revised Industry Code can be accessed here.