HomeInsightsCommittees of Advertising Practice publish new standards to protect children and young people from irresponsible gambling ads

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The new standards are a result of a review of the evidence on advertising’s impact on under-18s and rulings by the Advertising Standards Authority. The last review was carried out in 2014.

CAP says that the evidence suggests that exposure to gambling ads that comply with the UK’s Advertising Codes is, of itself, unlikely to harm under-18s. Targeted restrictions are still required, however, to address the potential risks associated with irresponsible advertising. While the advertising rules do not need to change, CAP says that it has introduced new standards to strengthen how they apply in practice.

The new standards:

  • prohibit online ads for gambling products being targeted at groups of individuals who are likely to be under 18 based on data about their online interests and browsing behaviour;
  • extensively list unacceptable types of content, including certain types of animated characters, licensed characters from movies or TV and sportspeople and celebrities that are likely to be of particular appeal to children, and references to youth culture;
  • prohibit the use in gambling ads of sportspersons, celebrities or other characters who are or appear to be under 25; and
  • adds to existing guidance on the responsible targeting of ads, covering all media (including social networks and other online platforms).

The standards set out some examples of scenarios to help advertisers understand what they need to do to target ads away from under-18s. For example:

  • social media: gambling operators must use all the tools available to them on a social network platform to prevent targeting their ads at under-18s. This includes both ad targeting facilities provided directly by the platform based, on their platform users’ interests and browsing behaviour, and tools that restrict under-18s’ access to marketers’ own social media content;
  • parts of websites for under-18s: gambling operators should take particular care to avoid placing their ads on parts of websites of particular appeal to under-18s. For example, a football club’s website might have a strongly adult audience in general, but it would be inappropriate to place gambling ads in pages dedicated to younger supporters;
  • social and online gaming: gambling-like games or games that feature elements of simulated gambling activity are often popular with children and young people. Such games should not be used to promote real-money gambling products. Where social and online games feature marketing communications for gambling games, they should not be directed at under-18s;
  • influencers: gambling operators should take particular care when identifying influencers to promote their products or brands. They should take into account the influencer’s likely appeal and obtain audience data (for instance, the age-breakdown of a follower or subscriber-base) to ensure that under-18s are not likely to comprise more than 25% of the audience;
  • affiliates: responsibility lies with gambling operators to ensure that affiliates or other third parties acting on their behalf to publish or disseminate ads that comply with the advertising rules.

The new standards will come into force on 1 April 2019. To read CAP’s press release and to access the new standards, click here.