House of Lords to amend pre-watershed TV advertising

3 March 2014

Concerns that UK children are being too exposed to online gambling may lead to a tightening of the regulations allowing daytime TV adverts for online bingo sites and pre-watershed advertising for betting sites, the Independent on Sunday newspaper reported this weekend.

Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, “will face calls for an urgent review of the effects on children of a surge in daytime advertising for online bingo, saturation sports betting in football matches, and “free” betting on platforms including Facebook”, the newspaper said.

Bingo is widely seen as a communal and leisurely form of gambling and its online form was exempt from the pre-watershed (9pm) advertising ban that was put in place when the Gambling Bill came into effect in 2007. Betting operators are allowed to advertise before 9pm during a sporting event, something some in the House of Lords want to amend in the Gambling Bill which goes before the Upper House tomorrow.

Peers in the House of Lords are planning a series of challenges to amend and overhaul UK gambling laws, “which are widely regarded as not having kept pace with technology” the IoS said. 

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara told the newspaper: “Every sports ad break now starts and finished with gambling adverts (...) You cannot watch sports without being saturated with gambling adverts and if you have kids that is worrying.”

Commenting on online bingo, Baroness Jones of Whitchurch said the interactive form of the game had “none of the attributes” of the game played in community centres and village halls and was “solitary, repetitive and addictive”.   

“Exemptions allowing adverts for bingo and sports betting, combines with the new social media opportunities, hve become major loopholes which the online gambling companies all too readily exploit,” she added.   

A report published by the UK media regulator Ofcom in November revealed that gambling commercials on British TV had increased by 600% since 2007, growing from 234,000 to 1.4 million a year, with a large number of them aired before the watershed.