Members of the Betting and Gaming Council have agreed to the voluntary removal of all gaming product advertising on TV and radio during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Despite a drop of ten per cent in advertising spend and the volume of TV sport and casino advertisements, BGC members have made the decision that all existing TV and radio advertising slots will be replaced by safe gambling messages, donated to charities or removed from broadcast where contracts permit.

Operators have until May 7 to implement the changes which will remain in force for six weeks and at a minimum until June 5 of this year. This voluntary change will apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will only be reviewed when lockdown restrictions are relaxed.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher commented on the removal: “From day one of this crisis we have sought to protect customers potentially at risk, including announcing stepping up safer gambling measures as part of our ten pledges for COVID-19 in March.

“This latest move by the regulated industry further underlines our commitment to safer betting and gaming with many people cut off and feeling anxious.

“We have been working closely with our member companies since this crisis began to monitor the impact of betting and gaming. There hasn’t been an explosion in people betting online as some had predicted – in fact, the opposite is true with total revenue down by up to 60 per cent.

“Overall gambling levels have also fallen significantly as a result of betting shops and casinos closing and the suspension of live sport. And whilst advertising levels on sports and casino are also down, again contrary to some assertions, we recognise that removing product advertising will act as a further safeguard during COVID-19.

“This major announcement by our members will result in the removal of half of all product advertising on TV and radio. I hope now that other major gambling operators like the National Lottery follow our lead.

This is the latest measure introduced by BGC members in an attempt to safeguard customers during the global pandemic with the standards body recently introducing a ten pledge action plan last month which set out the standards expected of its members during these difficult times.”

The announcement is the latest in the series of new measures introduced by BGC members to ensure that punters are protected during the current pandemic.

Dugher Added: “Throughout this crisis, as the new standards body, the BGC has worked very closely with the Government. Ministers and the regulator all deserve credit for their steadfast and consistent determination to have an evidence-led approach and to rightly call for higher standards.

“There will always been alarmist noises from anti-gambling prohibitionists who just want to grab headlines, but it is this serious, constructive and evidence-led approach by the BGC’s regulated members that has resulted in this further major change.

“We are determined to do everything we can to protect customers potentially at risk during this lockdown period and beyond – and we are determined to drive the high standards that the public expect from us. I hope others follow our lead.”

The impact of advertising is due to be discussed on Day 5 of SBC’s Digital Summit. With global business communities in the grip of the COVID-19 crisis, the Summit was created as a platform for the industry to connect and share knowledge amid critical and unprecedented conditions.

The SBC Digital Summit runs from 27 April to 1 May 2020 and features seven conference tracks, a virtual exhibition and virtual networking lounges, attracting an estimated 10,000 delegates logging in from around the world.

There is still time to register for the event, with company discounts available: