BGC sets out measures to cut underage ad exposure further

27 August 2020

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has announced a series of new measures in an effort to reduce the amount of online gambling adverts seen by under-18s in the UK.

The new requirements, which will be added to the sixth edition of the Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising, will require all BGC members to ensure sponsored or paid-for social media adverts are targeted at consumers aged 25 and over, unless the website can prove the ads can be targeted at over-18s.

The updated code states that gambling ads appearing on search engines must make clear that they are promoting services only for use by consumers aged 18 and over, as well as including safer gambling messaging. YouTube users will also have to use age-verified accounts before they can view gambling ads, while all BGC members will be required to post frequent responsible gambling messages on their Twitter accounts.

The 25+ age restriction and age-gating on YouTube were first agreed by a working group formed by the Gambling Commission (and led by Flutter Entertainment-owned Sky Betting & Gaming) in April this year. This also saw the group commit to establishing a permanent cross-industry Adtech Forum. At the time the Commission said it was satisfied with the group's conclusions, and expected the new measures to be in place by July.

The new code is due to come into effect from 1 October this year.

“BGC members have a zero tolerance attitude to under-18s betting, and from requirements for safer gambling messages to restrictions on YouTube advertising, this new code shows how seriously the BGC, who represent regulated betting but not the National Lottery, take our responsibilities,” BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said.

Dugher also took the opportunity to call on the UK government and major online platforms to work with the BGC to help protect minors from gambling related harm by supporting the industry organisation with its new measures.
“It is vital that the big internet platforms honour their responsibilities to protect people online and we hope the government will use its forthcoming Online Harms Bill to that effect,” Dugher said.

“The review of the Gambling Act will also provide further opportunities to improve standards and we look forward to working with the Government on this.”

Publication of the new code comes after the BGC last week openly praised the impact of the so-called whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling ads during televised sports events in the UK, saying it has helped cut the number of adverts seen by children by 97%.

The ban, which came into effect on 1 August 2019, prohibits gambling ads from being shown on pre-watershed sports from five minutes before an event until five minutes after it finishes. The rule does not apply to horse and greyhound racing.