Investigation of gambling ads

Posted On: 
24th October 2016

It has been announce that an investigation into online gambling advertising is finally to be held. However, based on the information released so far it looks as though this will have only a limited remit.

All gambling advertising should be considered under the principles laid out in the 2005 Gambling Act; that gambling is "fair and open", that the young and vulnerable should be prevented from harm and that there is no association between gambling and crime.

Yet, as evidenced over the years, it is young and vulnerable persons who are being induced and enticed into online gambling through advertising related to offers of enhanced odds, credits and bonuses. As the Advertising Standards Agency is finding, these adverts are far from fair and open.

When gamblers show they are capable of winning, breaking even or not losing enough at sports or race betting, many are discovering that their accounts are closed or bets restricted.

Furthermore, bonus and credit offers contain terms and conditions that make it impossible to evaluate the true equity of the offer and there is always a turnover requirement before withdrawal.

Derek Webb, founder of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling stated, "The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) keeps getting valid complaints about gambling ads and requires that these ads are not re-used. However, the creativity of the marketers means that similar ads pop-up soon after. The Gambling Commission claims that operators are "not doing enough" but it is the Commission that is not doing enough as it has the power to fine operators and revoke licenses. The current system is failing under the not-fit-for-purpose Gambling Commission.

We recently prevailed in a complaint to the ASA regarding an ad by the Senet Group, the bookmakers own advertising watchdog. The Senet ad was so blatantly wrong that the ASA did not even obtain input from the Group into the decision.

The majority of online gambling sites have located offshore under lax regulation and low taxes. The Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Group is taking the UK government to the EU courts to try to prevent having to pay a 15% point of consumption tax on losses from UK gamblers. The operators who want to avoid paying tax where the gambling harm results cannot claim any "responsible" gambling credentials."

The Campaign for Fairer Gambling is a campaign which strives for fairness in gambling and is centred around the three licensing objectives of the Gambling Act 2005, aimed at:

1.            Preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime,

2.            Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way, and

3.            Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited