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Operators will have to revamp their marketing, after the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) tightened up gambling advertising, with new standards set to come into effect on 2 April 2018

With an emphasis placed on live betting, it has been detailed that, although live odds can still be advertised, undue pressure should not placed on consumers, including calls to action such as “bet now.”

The new guidelines also make clear that “money back” offers must be in cash and not bonuses, “risk free” offers must incur no loss to the consumer and when it comes to “matched bets”, any stake limitation should be treated as a significant condition and stated upfront.

Significant conditions are those which are likely to affect a consumer’s understanding of the promotion, and are likely to include any requirement for a consumer to deposit their own funds, restricted odds, eligibility, wagering and withdrawal requirements.

Other standards being introduced include:

  • Curb trivialisation of gambling (e.g. encouraging repetitive play);
  • Prevent approaches that give an irresponsible perception of the risk or control (e.g. “Risk Free Deposit Bonus”);
  • Provide greater detail on problem gambling behaviours and associated behaviours indicators that should not be portrayed, even indirectly;
  • Prevent undue emphasis on money-motives for gambling; and
  • Provide more detail on vulnerable groups like problem gamblers that marketers need to work to protect.

CAP’s new standards on free bets and bonuses, which come into effect immediately, aim to help advertisers understand the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), CAP and Gambling Commission’s current position on acceptable claims in ads, and how terms and conditions should be displayed or signposted.

Significant conditions must always be prominently displayed with an advertised offer, while other terms and conditions of the offer need to be, at most, one click away from the advertising.  Failure to qualify free bets and bonus offers in this way are unacceptable and will lead to sanction by the ASA.

Shahriar Coupal, Director of the Committees of Advertising Practice, said: “We won’t tolerate gambling ads that exploit people’s vulnerabilities or play fast and loose with eye-catching free bet and bonus offers.  Our new guidance takes account of the best available evidence to strengthen the protections already in place, ensuring that gambling is presented responsibly, minimising the potential for harm.”

The Remote Gambling Association commented: “In recent months we have worked constructively with The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) and other stakeholders on a range of related issues.  This new guidance is the latest reflection of that and we fully support the thrust of the new measures.

“We hope and believe that collectively this and other initiatives will go a long way to addressing many of the concerns that have been expressed about gambling advertising, especially on television.”

While some of the standards are designed to protect vulnerable groups, CAP said that ‘Evidence reviewed in developing the CAP guidance suggests that advertising does not play a causal or even significant role in problem gambling or harm in general. Problem gambling rates have in fact remained relatively stable during a period of considerable growth in advertising volumes.  

Although the overall impact is small, the evidence points to potential risk factors in the form of claims, imagery or approaches that might unduly influence people to behave irresponsibly.

That’s why CAP is setting tougher standards to tackle any potential for harm. Ads must not play on individuals’ susceptibilities (financial concerns, self-esteem) or contain anything that might exploit vulnerable groups such as those with problem gambling issues.’

Later this year, further guidance focusing on the protection of children and young people will be published by the CAP.