APPG asks for UK gambling advertising ban

Simona Boshkova | Published 18 Jun 2020, 10:47 a.m.

One of the biggest gambling restrictive measures in the UK was back in January this year when the UK Gambling Commission announced the credit card gambling ban. Then, the regulator explained that the ban is necessary because 22% of the people who gamble using credit cards are classified as problem gamblers. The figure would be even higher if we consider those who are at risk.

The Commission stuck to its plan and the credit card gambling ban was enforced in April. UKGC once again reminded that the ban was essential for protecting customers who are at risk. Additionally, about a week ago, UKGC confirmed that the credit card gambling ban includes payments by credit card through money service businesses (MSBs).

Now, it seems like another gambling ban is on its way to the UK. The Gambling-Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has called for a ban on all gambling advertisements in the UK, as well as a £2 stake limits for online slots.

A group of MPs published a report on online gambling harms

The recommendation for a ban on all gambling advertisements was published as part of a report on online gambling harms by a group of more than 50 Members of Parliament (MPs). They started an inquiry in March 2019, based on more than 10 public evidence sessions and meetings with UKGC. Now, they formed an anti-gambling group and introduced a number of changes to the UK gambling laws. If approved, no online or TV gambling advertisements would be allowed in the country.

The proposal, in its entirety, includes:

  • A ban on gambling ads, both on TV and online;
  • An end to VIP schemes and inducements to bet;
  • A £2 stake limit on online slots;
  • Independent affordability checks;
  • Controls on gambling game design;
  • A new ombudsman to resolve disputes.

Moreover, the APPG also asked for a total overhaul of the Gambling Commission, because they think that the regulator is struggling to keep pace with the fast-growing industry. The group believes that the Commission is behind a lot of countries that have more online gambling restrictions. They also mentioned the need for a new Gambling Act, in order to make it fit for the digital age.

UK advertising group responds to the gambling ad ban

While the APPG believes that the gambling ad ban will have an impact on problem gambling, one advertising group has responded by rejecting their idea. The Advertising Association (AA) responded to APPG, telling that a complete ban on gambling ads is not necessary. Stephen Woodford, the chief executive of AA, explained that such action has wide implications, especially for the support of sports across media channels.

Woodford added that AA is constantly supporting the UKGC and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), and the frameworks are regularly reviewed and updated. He added that the codes are under regular and rigorous review. In case new evidence emerges, the ASA and UKGC amend the rules if they believe that the evidence support change.

In addition, Woodford reminded that gaming operators have to stick to the standards established by the UKGC and the ASA. He reminded advertisers that they are responsible to comply with the established policies as well. At last, he asked all gambling operators and agencies to continue to adhere to the already established rules which clearly require gambling operators to be responsible and to protect the players.