There has been a lot of controversy regarding the voluntary ban that the UK gambling companies are planning to implement in 2019, which is going to include a ban on all gambling ads during sporting events, from whistle-to-whistle. The Whistle-to-Whistle ban aims to protect the children who are watching these sporting events from gambling and its harmful effects at this young age. In response to that, Sky CEO Van Royeen stated that the proposed TV Ad is going to do so little when it comes to minimizing gambling harm. In his statement, he said that the majority of the advertisement budget goes to online ads rather than TV, where there is less regulation than the TV broadcast. He added that with the ban, gambling operators would push more money into online ads. He believes that to be dangerous, as there are better and stricter laws that govern TV ads when you compare it to online ads. Therefore, he believes that the ASA should focus on solving the issues of TV ads, without pushing the operators to go to the less-governed online media world.
The Advertising Standards Authority Defends the Gaming Ad Controls and teh Whistle-to-Whistle Ban
On the other hand, the ASA stated that the claims of Van Royeen are not accurate. The ASA cited the terms of the BCAP and the CAP codes that govern the two media channels and pointed out that the ASA has taken action against online digital ads, and that the new guidance that they issued in previous years specifically address online advertising.
A spokesperson of the ASA also noted that online advertising is subject to as strict of regulations as TV broadcast advertisement. To explain the spokesperson stated that gambling operators have to target their ad material away from the children, and the ASA has ruled against the ads that broke that rule, more than once. Earlier in 2018, the ASA published new guidance that contains a set of rules that ensure that the ads remain socially responsible and to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of problem gambling.
ASA Guidance on Underage Gambling and Ads
In 2017, the ASA issued guidance regarding media placement and restrictions that aim to prohibit age-restricted marketing ads from making its way to the media. The ASA also, in different guidance, the ASA focused on age-restricted ads that call on the marketers to use sufficient data to make sure that the minors do not see these gambling advertisements. It also warned the companies that they have to demonstrate their efforts that ensure that children do not see these ads.
The ASA Tackles Online Gambling Operators
The ASA has issued many rulings against multiple online advertisements from the UK gambling sector, in these last months alone. The UK websites that the ASA ruled against include Fun88 and M88 because of their ads that could appeal to the minors. Also, one of the biggest names in the industry, William Hill, was found to have had its ads on a mobile app that targets children.