Underage Gambling & Advertising Regulations

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9/10 Pubs Fail to Stop Children Using Gambling Machines

The Gambling Commission states that approximately 9 out of 10 pubs across England failed to stop children gambling in their premises.

The regulators conducted tests on 61 pubs across England, finding that 89% didn’t prevent under agers from using 18+ gaming machines. According to the study, the results didn’t vary significantly between larger pub communities, independents or licensing authorities.

Helen Rhoades, programme director at the Gambling Commission comments:

“We urgently call on the pub sector to take action immediately to enforce the laws in place to protect children and young people. We expect significant improvement in further tests and will continue to work with licensing authorities to support action required against those failing to adhere to requirements.”

Currently, children are not authorised to play Category C gaming machines, those with maximum pay-outs of £100 in pubs.

Simon Blackburn, chairman of Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, commented that underage gambling should be treated with the same vigilance as underage drinking;

 “Playing gaming machines that are restricted to over 18’s risks young people becoming addicted to gambling.”

Gambling Sites Ordered to Remove Adverts Appealing to Children

Recently, Games such as Fluffy Favourites and Pirate Princess were ordered to remove adverts after regulators wrote to operators urging them to advertise responsibly. The adverts contained brightly coloured cartoons.

The letter was sent by Gambling Commission, Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), and Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP). The letter stressed that under 18’s and other vulnerable people must be protected from exploitation.

The letter detailed;

“The use of particular colours, cartoons, comic book images, animals, child and youth-orientated references and names of games such as Piggy Payout, Fluffy Favourites, Pirate Princess and Jack and the Beanstalk are likely, alone or in combination, to enhance appeal to under-18s.”

Legal Age

The UK gambling industry is wide ranging, offered on various forms; public casinos, sports betting, gaming machines and bingo. All of which are easily and readily accessible on highstreets and online.

Legal ages differ for gambling depending on industry. Generally, the minimum legal age for gambling in the UK is 18. This rule applies to gambling centres, betting shops, bingo halls, casinos, racetracks and online gambling.

However, the National Lottery, lotteries and football pools allow those to take part at the age of 16. Also, some low stakes or low prize gaming machines in amusement arcades do not require a legal age, and are open to anyone.

Scope of Gambling in UK

A report commissioned by the British Labour party identified an estimated 430,000 gambling addicts in the UK, with 25,000 under the age of 16. The Gambling Commission reports that gamblers are either problem gamblers or are already at risk of addiction.

Tom Watson announced a number of policies, aiming to tackle the issue. The lists of proposals are as follows;

  • A £100m-a-year levy on gambling firms to fund addiction treatment
  • A ban on the use of credit cards to place bets
  • Rules to allow addicts to ask bank to block gambling transactions
  • New clinical guidelines on treatment for problem gamblers
  • Gambling companies banned from advertising on television during live sports

According to the Gambling Commission, data from the Young People and Gambling 2017 survey indicates:

  • 80% of young people have seen gambling adverts on TV
  • 70% on social media
  • 66% on websites
  • 10% follow gambling companies on social media

Young people are exposed to gambling advertising on a variety of channels, with more than half seeing TV advertisements at least once per week.

Read more at: Gambling Commission

Since the 2005 Gambling Act liberalisation, the gambling advertising market in the UK has soared.  According to the Gambling Commission site, there are over 8,500 betting shops, 146 casinos, and 583 bingo premises in UK.

New Standards for Gambling Advertising

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) have issued a set of new standards for gambling adverts, which focus on adverts appealing to those addicted to gambling or problem gamblers.

The regulators welcomed the tightening of advertising standards, restricting ads that create an “inappropriate sense of urgency”- adverts that use phrases like ‘Bet now!’ to push deals during live events.

CAP also aim to stop the ‘trivialisation of gambling’, cracking down on advertising that gives the public an incorrect perception of the risks involved with gambling and encourages repetitive play.

CAP & the ASA will also:

  • prevent approaches that give irresponsible perception of the risk or control (e.g. “Risk Free Deposit Bonus”)
  • provide greater detail on problem gambling behaviours and associated behaviours that should not be portrayed, even indirectly
  • prevent undue emphasis on money-motives for gambling
  • Provide more detail on vulnerable groups like problem gamblers that marketers need to protect.
  • Such standards will directly effect what adverts are deemed appropriate to display and furthermore broadcast.

Advertising & Marketing Rules

According to the Gambling Commission, advertising gambling products and services must undertake a socially responsible manner, complying with UK Advertising Codes issued by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), and administered by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Advertising must also comply with the Gambling industry code for socially responsible advertising.

The CAP code requires marketing for gambling must not be of particular appeal to young people or children, by reflecting associated youth culture; imagery, wording, and whether you are able to view ads freely and accessibly all need to be carefully considered.

Marketing communications for gambling must not include a young person or child. No one under the age or likeness of 25 years old can be featured in gambling material, this including social media.

Socially Responsible Advertising

Social responsibility messaging must be included in all forms of gambling advertising where it is practicable to do so. This is a requirement of the Industry Code, and should appear on all broadcast media.

Below is a list of examples;

  • ‘Don’t let the game play you’
  • ‘Be gamble aware’
  • ‘Bet with your head, but not above it’
  • ‘Winners know when to stop’
  • 'Know your limit and play within it'
  • 'Please play responsibly'

Regulatory Action

All marketing and advertising must adhere to regulations set out in UK law, as well as advertising codes of practice.

Rules are enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority. Reports are made to the ASA or a local trading standards office. If an advert breaks the rules, it may be withdrawn. If an advert doesn’t match descriptions or breaks the law penalties can include: fines, revocation of licenses, prosecution or imprisonment.

Those who do not follow rules and regulations can expect regulatory action. When regulatory bodies take action, they often have a range of powers including:

  • Issue warnings
  • Attach an additional license condition
  • Remove or amend license condition
  • Suspend license
  • Revoke license
  • Impose a financial penalty

Businesses face significant regulation from organisations that focus to ensure regulations are adhered to. Breaches in any regulatory requirements can carry significant consequences for business owners or individuals.

It is crucial you obtain the right legal advice. If you seek clarification or you require more information regarding advertising regulation, call Ian Anderson on 0113 284 5062 or alternatively email ian.anderson@isonharrison.co.uk

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