RGA denies BBC reports of gambling ad ban

6 December 2018

Betting companies have still to agree a voluntary ban on advertising during sports broadcasts in the UK, despite a BBC report claiming a deal had been struck.

The BBC this morning reported that Remote Gambling Association (RGA) members have signed up to a 'whistle-to-whistle' TV advertising ban around three weeks after formal talks began between major operators such as William Hill, Ladbrokes and Bet365. Horse racing would be exempt from the proposals, according to the broadcaster.

However, RGA CEO Clive Hawkswood this morning told iGamingBusiness.com that "the BBC have got it wrong. There is no agreement on any proposals yet let alone an announcement."

That said, it is understood that progress has been made since talks on new voluntary restrictions on advertising began on November 20.

Updating iGamingBusiness.com on the discussions, Stella Dalton, the RGA's regulatory affairs manager, said: "The Gambling Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising is reviewed annually, and several options are currently being considered as the basis for possible enhancements in 2019. However, nothing has yet been finalised."

Shares in gambling operators such as William Hill and GVC as well as broadcaster ITV's are all down more than 4% this morning in the wake of the BBC report.

It is understood that measures that have been discussed include a total ban on pre-watershed advertising, banning ads promoting in-play odds and the restriction of gambling ads to one slot per commercial break. The talks come in the wake of reports that the government is considering the imposition of restrictions on betting advertising.

UK broadcaster Sky recently announced plans to limit gambling ads to one slot per commercial break from the start of the 2019-20 Premier League season. From 2020, all Sky subscribers will also have the option to have their set top boxes replace gambling ads with alternative commercials.

GVC, owner of the Ladbrokes, Coral, bwin and Sportingbet brands, has spoken out in favour of a ban on gambling ads being shown around sports broadcasts before the 9PM watershed, as part of a range of corporate social responsibility measures announced in October this year.