The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has announced a series of new measures in the hope of cracking down on gambling ad exposure to youths under 18.
The organisation’s new rules, which are outlined in the Sixth Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising, will come into effect on October 1st and requires that all BGC members must ensure that all sponsored and paid social media advertisements are only targeted to people aged over 25 unless the website can prove the ads that targeted precicely to those over 18.
What’s more, the new rules will require gambling ads which appear on search engines to make clear that they are only for those aged over 18, and that they must include safer gambling messages. Finally, users on YouTube will have to have an age-verified account to view gambling advertisements, and all BGC members will be required to post responsible gambling messages on a frequent basis across all Twitter accounts.
As reported by iGamingBusiness, the YouTube age restriction was first agreed by a working group formed by the UK Gambling Commission from back in April. The same group also committed to establishing a permanent cross-industry Adtech Forum to help regulate advertisements.
Speaking about the brand new rules, BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher said: “As the new standards body for the regulated sector, we are committed to driving up standards within the betting and gaming industry.
“We have made excellent progress in recent times and the Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising is updated as technology evolves. The latest edition is further evidence of our determination to continue to ensure that standards are rising and are as high as they can possibly be.”
He continued: “BGC members have a zero tolerance attitude to work with us to crack down on black market operators who have no interest in safer gambling or protecting their customers and do not work to the same responsiblt standards as BGC members.
“It is vital that the big internet platforms honour their responsibilities to protect people online and we hope the Government will use its forthcoming Online Harms Bill to that effect. The Review of the Gambling Act will also provide further opportunities to improve standards and we look forward to working with the Government on this.”
These new measures regarding gambling advertisements are part of the BGC’s mission to drive up standards within the online betting and gaming industry. Since it’s formation last year, the BGC has worked to implement various measures to help protect gamblers.
Previous measures implemented by the organisation include a whistle-to-whistle ban on TV gambling advertisements during televised sports games as well as five minutes before the match begins and five minutes after it ends. More recently, the BGC praised the ban for helping clamp down on children’s exposure to gambling.
In addition, the BGC has implemented a requirement that 20% of all TV and radio gambling advertismeents must be safer gambling messages, that betting shops and casinos implement cooling off periods on gaming machines, the implementation of deposit limits at online gambling websites, new age and ID verification checks, and measures which call for increased funding for the research, education and treatment of gambling addiction and realted harm.
Meanwhile, the BGC continously campaigned for England, Wales, and Scotland to reopen casinos following the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown. Although most of the nation reopened, casinos in England, Wales, and Scotland were forced to remain closed for an extended period of time.
During those long months, the BGC continuously urged UK Governments to reopen casinos to help people return to work, and to aid in the financial recovery of the nation. After endless campaigning, England allowed casinos to reopen in mid-August followed by Scotland and Wales towards the end of the month.
Even though casinos throughout the UK are now open or are in the process of reopening, the BGC has warned that there are tough times ahead for the gambling industry. Many brands such as William Hill, Grosvenor Casino, Buzz Bingo, and many other companies have announced venue closures and staff cuts as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown and their prolonged closure.
The BGC’s new measures come days after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) published the findings of its Online Monitoring Sweep study which examined and identified age-restricted adverts published within children’s digital media over a course of three months.
As part of the study, the ASA examined online advertising related to alcohol, slimming and weight loss products, e-cigarettes, tobacco, and gambling. Over the three-month surveyance period, the ASA found a total of 159 age-restricted ads which broke ASA’s advertising rules.
Around 35 advertisers placed these rule-breaking adverts on 34 websites and five YouTube channels, all of which were aimed at or attracted a large underage audience.
According to SBC News, 70 of the said 159 ads promoted gambling and the 70 betting ads that broke advertising rules came from four main gambling operators and appeared across eight different websites. In addition, the ASA found that gambling advertising breaches were more common that alcohol of 10 non-compliant ads and tobacco with one non-compliant ad.
Speaking about the findings, ASA Chief Executive Guy Parker said in a statement: “The ASA is using technology to proactively monitor online ads to help build a culture of zero tolerance for age-restricted ads appearing on wesites aimed at children.
“We expect advertisers and the parties they contract with to use the sophisticated tools available to them to target their ads responsibly. This is just one part of a wider set of initiatives we’re undertaking to ensure children are protected online and we’ll report on our further work in this area in the coming months.”
The Advertising Standards Authority concluded in its study that it has contacted the owners of the advertisements and they will face regulatory action. What’s more, the ASA also announced that it will continue conducting its advertisement sweeps as part of a “quaterly exercise over the next 12 months”. The regulatory body has stated that it will take action against repeat offenders with the aim of building a “zero-tolerance culture against age-restricted ads in children’s media”.