New standards protecting children from irresponsible gambling advertisements, including online

February 13, 2019

The Committee on Advertising Practice has published new standards with the aim of protecting children and young people from irresponsible gambling advertisements. This follows a recent review of the evidence on advertising’s impact on under-18s and rulings by the Advertising Standards Authority. The previous review had been carried out in 2014.

The evidence suggests that exposure to gambling advertisements that comply with the UK’s advertising codes is, of itself, unlikely to harm under-18s. However, targeted restrictions are still required to address the potential risks associated with irresponsible advertising. While the advertising rules do not need to change, new standards are being introduced to strengthen how they apply in practice. 

In particular, the standards provide examples of scenarios to help advertisers understand what they need to do to target advertisements 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 advertisements at under-18s. This includes both advertisement 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 advertisements 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 advertisements 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 advertisements that comply with the advertising rules.

The new standards will come into force on 1 April 2019.