Tough code for casino ads


Watchdogs will today unveil new rules to prevent the lifting of ad restrictions for bookmakers and casinos from sparking a surge in problem gambling.

As from September, casinos, betting shops and online gaming sites will be able to advertise on television and radio for the first time under the 2005 Gambling Act, which also paved the way for the UK’s first “super casino” in Manchester.

The self-regulatory body that draws up the codes with which all advertisers must comply said yesterday the “strict new rules” would ensure the adverts remained socially responsible.

The relaxation of the ban is expected to signal a boom in television advertising by the sector, particularly among those online casinos hitherto limited mainly to billboards, sponsorship and online advertising.

Broadcasters hope it will help plug the financial gap created by new restrictions governing junk food ads aimed at children.

The new rules, to be policed by the Advertising Standards Authority, will insist adverts do not imply that gambling can be a solution to financial problems. Nor should they “portray, condone or encourage” behaviour that could lead to “financial, emotional or social harm”.

As with the code governing alcohol advertising, they must not be of particular appeal to children and young people, nor link the activity to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness.

Roger Wisbey, the secretary of the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice, said the changes marked “a significant milestone” in the way betting and gaming could be advertised.

“Although advertisers will enjoy more freedom to advertise their services across media, the public can be confident they will do so within a stringent framework that requires all ads to be prepared in a socially responsible manner,” he added.

Minister for sport Richard Caborn said the new rules “set out clearly what is and isn’t acceptable advertising practice for all gambling operators”.

But he insisted the government was “not complacent” and would monitor the impact of the new rules.

“If they are insufficient to ensure proper public protection, the government will consider using its additional powers to impose further restrictions,” he said.

The new rules also set out scheduling restrictions which ban radio and TV adverts for gambling in and around programmes aimed at under-18s and state that those who appear to be under 25 years old cannot be shown gambling.

From Online Gambling Guide for the British! /

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