Insights Committees of Advertising Practice publish interim statement on their gambling ads consultation and announce revised guidance on protection of adult audiences.


In October 2020, CAP and BCAP published a consultation responding to the findings of the GambleAware Final Synthesis Report, in which they proposed introducing new strengthened rules and guidance for gambling ads to protect children and young people. The consultation is ongoing, but CAP and BCAP have published an update on progress to date.

CAP and BCAP commit to delivering the final outcome of the consultation by the end of 2021.

The proposals published last October included changes to boost protections in response to findings in the GambleAware research, along with technical updates to support Code users’ understanding of:

  • new rules on appeal of content to under-18s: new rules to restrict the creative content of gambling and lotteries ads to further limit their potential to appeal to under-18s;
  • revisions to the responsibility and problem gambling guidance: several revisions to the guidance on “Gambling advertising: responsibility and problem gambling” seeking to reduce the likelihood of gambling and lotteries advertising appealing irresponsibly through their content and general messaging to vulnerable adults, principally adults with problem gambling-related issues;
  • the case for new media placement restrictions: possible new restrictions on the scheduling, placement and targeting of gambling advertisements; and
  • technical updates to the Codes: proposed technical changes to the introductory parts of the gambling sections of the UK Advertising Codes to ensure they are up to date with the underlying legal framework and to improve clarity for Code users; these proposals do not entail a change in advertising policy.

The Committees say that the consultation has yielded a significant number of detailed responses focusing in particular on how a “strong” appeal-based rule to further restrict the appeal of creative content to under-18s would work in practice. Assessment of the consultation feedback is well advanced, and the Committees commit to announcing the outcome of this part of the consultation in Q4 2021. Because they both concern the protection of under-18s, the outcome of the Committees’ consideration of the case for new media placement restrictions will be published at the same time.

In the interim, CAP and BCAP say that they are keen to implement the finalised outcomes of the parts of the consultation on revisions to the guidance and technical updates to the Code, particularly as the guidance revisions provide increased protections for adult audiences.

Accordingly, new provisions in the “Gambling advertising: responsibility and problem gambling” guidance have been added in, drawing on insights from the GambleAware research. These now restrict ads that:

  • present complex bets or other gambling products in a way that emphasises the skill, knowledge or intelligence involved and could therefore lead to erroneous perceptions of risk or control;
  • present gambling as a way to be part of a community based on skill; or
  • state or imply that offers (such as those involving money back, “free” bets or bonuses, or enhanced odds) are a way to reduce risk.

This revised guidance also includes further provisions and examples that reinforce the need for gambling advertising to avoid encouragements based on creating a sense of impulsiveness and urgency, messages that trivialise decisions to participate in gambling, and marketing approaches that play on people’s financial concerns.

The revised guidance will come into effect in November 2021.

The Committees have also updated the introductory parts of the UK Advertising Codes’ gambling sections to make them clearer and to provide more clarity on issues such as jurisdictional considerations for different areas within the UK and the Crown Dependencies where different underlying statutory regimes exist for advertising subject to the Codes. These technical updates do not result in a change in advertising policy. To read the Committees’ press release in full and for access to the full interim statement, click here.