Insiders hope gambling ad changes can be agreed next week

6 December 2018

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright is among those to have welcomed reports that a voluntary ban on betting advertising during sports broadcasts is close to being agreed.

Wright (pictured) said further restrictions on advertising would be a "welcome move” in response to an erroneous BBC report that Remote Gambling Association (RGA) members have already agreed to voluntarily implement a ban on gambling advertisements during live sports events other than horse racing.

iGamingBusiness.com understands it is hoped an agreement will be reached by next Wednesday (Dec 12), although it must be signed off by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling, which represents all five major UK gambling industry associations.

Wright welcomed the industry’s proactive approach since discussions over changes to the Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising began last month.

“Welcome move from gambling firms today on advertising ban during live sport,” Wright said. “Pleased to see industry responding to concerns raised and helping to protect children and vulnerable people from risks of gambling related harm.”

Critics of the gambling industry were disappointed to see that the reported provisional deal applies only to television advertising. The Campaign for Fairer Gambling argued that only a ban covering shirt and league sponsorship, and pitch-side scrolling displays will be effective.

GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches said that while the charity supported action on television advertising, changes must also be taken on online marketing.

"We have been saying for a long time now that gambling is being increasingly normalised for children,” he said. “They are growing up in a very different world than their parents, one where technology and the internet are ever present.

“So while we welcome this move by betting companies, it is important to pay attention to analysis that shows the marketing spend online is five times the amount spent on television.

“The fact that it is reported one in eight 11 to 16 year olds are following gambling companies on social media is very concerning."

The proposed “whistle-to-whistle” ban was enough to cause a significant blow to major gambling operators’ share prices. William Hill shares were trading down 3.3% at 157.2p today (December 6), while Ladbrokes and Coral owner GVC was down 4.0% to 692.5p and Unibet owner Kindred Group was down 3.7% to SEK86.5.

Free-to-air broadcaster ITV, which shows many England international football matches, was down by 4.3% to 132.35p.