Leading UK gambling industry body, The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has announced a new version of their Code for Socially Responsible Advertising, aimed at ensuring minors are protected from online gambling ads. Under the new rules, operators will have to adhere to a number of guidelines, especially in the area of social media promotion.
The new code will come into effect from 1st October and will apply to all BGC members. It will require all operators who place ads on social media to ensure that they exclusively target users aged 25 and above, though there will be an exception in cases where they can prove that their ads can be targeted exclusively to over-18s.
All BGC members will also be required to post regular responsible gambling messages on their pages if they operate on Twitter. Ads on search engines will have to clearly explain that the messages are only intended for those aged 18 or above, and each ad will have to include a responsible gambling message. And on YouTube, gambling-related advertising will be restricted to over-18s accounts.
The ongoing whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling ads shown during sporting events on TV is also set to remain, and there will be a new commitment to ensure that 20% of ads on television will have to be dedicated to promoting safer gambling. Operators will also be required to introduce cooling off periods for gaming machines, promote deposit limits, bring in new ID and age verification checks and significantly increase funding in the areas of research, education and treatment.
The launch of the new code follows last week’s findings by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) which found that some UK operators were targeting their ads at sites that are popular with under-18s.
Speaking about the new code, the Chief Executive at the BGC, Michael Dugher, said that they were committed to raising standards in the betting and gaming industry, that they had made good progress in recent times and that they continued to update their Code as technology changes:
“BGC members have a zero tolerance attitude to under-18s betting, and from requirements for safer gambling messages to restrictions on YouTube advertising, this new code shows how seriously the BGC, who represent regulated betting but not the National Lottery, take our responsibilities.”
But Dugher also said that the UK Government had a role to play in promoting safer gambling by cracking down on illegal operators, who had no commitment to customer protection or to responsible gambling. He said that it was vital for internet platforms to do more to honour their commitments towards helping to keep customers safe online. He also added that the upcoming review of the Gambling Act, trailed by the Government last year, would offer further chances to raise standards.