Advertising body rejects APPG calls for total gambling ad ban

16 June 2020

The UK’s Advertising Association (AA) has rejected proposals from the Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to ban all forms of gambling advertising, saying that such a move is not necessary at present.

The APPG yesterday (15 June) published its final report on igaming harms, and concluded that a range of strict new controls should be introduced, including a total prohibition on advertising.

In the report, the APPG claimed that as gambling can cause harm to individuals, and as advertising is designed to encourage people to gamble, a blanket ban would be justified.

However, the AA, a trade association that represents advertisers, agencies, media and research services in the UK, said an outright ban would not be necessary and could in fact have further implications on the market.

“We ask all gambling operators and their agencies to continue to adhere to the strict standards set by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Gambling Commission,” AA chief executive Stephen Woodford said. “These rules clearly require gambling operators to be socially responsible and to protect the vulnerable, as well as under 18s.

“As new evidence emerges, the ASA and Gambling Commission consider this and amend the rules if they believe the evidence supports change," Woodford explained. "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, the ASA released new research that suggested children’s exposure to gambling advertising has declined and is falling back to 2008 levels, amid an overall drop in TV viewing among children.

The ASA’s 2019 update on its monitoring of children’s exposure to advertising for age-restricted products revealed children saw, on average, 2.5 TV gambling ads per week. This sees the rate of exposure fall to 2008 and 2009 levels, when children saw 2.2 and 2.7 gambling ads on TV, respectively.

In total, these ads made up less than 2% of all TV ads seen by children each week. This represented a significant decline from 2013’s peak, when children saw an average of 4.4 gambling ads per week.

The AA is not the only organisation to have hit back at the APPG findings, with the Gambling Commission also blasting claims that it was “not for for purpose”, dismissing the parliamentary group's assertion as “untrue”.

Other recommendations made by the APPG included a ban on online in-play betting and a new review into the use of bonuses and incentives by gambling operators, to determine whether these contributed to harmful gambling, as well as an end to VIP schemes.