Advertising Industry Reject Gambling Ban Proposal

The UK advertising industry’s trade body, the Advertising Association (AA) has rejected calls from MPs on the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to bring in a ban on all forms of gambling advertising.

Earlier this week, the APPG released its final report on gambling harm. They concluded that a variety of new measures should be brought in, including a total ban on all gambling advertising. In their report, the APPG make the claim that as gambling causes significant harm to some individuals, a blanket ban on advertising that encourages gambling would be justified.

But the AA, a body that speaks on behalf of a variety of advertisers, media services and agencies in the UK, said that outright ban would be unnecessary and could have market implications. Speaking about the APPG proposal, the AA Chief Executive Stephen Woodford said that his organisation asks all gambling operators to stick to the strict guidelines, protecting vulnerable and underage individuals, and that although they kept all rules under review, they were not in favour of a complete ban:

“As new evidence emerges, the ASA and Gambling Commission consider this and amend the rules if they believe the evidence supports change. At this time, we believe a total ban is not necessary – such an action has wide implications, particularly for the support of sports across media channels, something enjoyed by millions of people right across the UK.”

Last month, a report by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) showed that children’s exposure to gambling promotions has declined to the levels last seen in 2008, alongside an overall drop in children’s television viewing. The ASA’s update showed that in 2019, children saw an average of 2.5  TV gambling promotions every week. The report also showed that in total, such advertisements made up less than 2% of the television promotions seen by children every week, a significant drop from the peak of 2013, when the average was at 4.4 gambling advertisements every week.

The AA was joined in its criticisms of the APPG findings by the UK Gambling Commission, which rejected findings by MPs that it was not ‘fit for purpose’. The wide-ranging recommendations from politicians also included a ban on in-play betting, an end to VIP schemes and a fresh review in to the way gambling operators used incentives and promotions and their link to problem gambling.

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