ASA reviews the volume of gambling ads

Cvetanka Cvetanovska | Published 28 Feb 2020, 3:19 p.m.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) this week reported on advertising concerns among the UK public. Precisely, it has been defined that different industries at some point violated the marketing rules and regulations. The ASA addressed gambling operators, calling them on better targeting and excluding vulnerable demographics.

Challenges in targeted advertising processes

Speaking at the ISBA annual conference that took place yesterday, the CEO of ASA Guy Parker announced that one of their concerns is the technology behind targeted advertising. They suspect some operators use different schemes and methods for targeting. This list involves people that might be at risk of developing problem gambling behaviour. In the next months, they would focus on penalties and restrictions among operators. This way, they would keep them accountable in order to exclude vulnerable and underaged individuals. 

In addition, he said that this behaviour is common among a small number of gambling companies. Unfortunately, it boosts mistrust in marketing and advertising in general. When it comes to advertising space, the ads in TV commercials are not the main problem. This also involves sponsorship agreements in professional sports, football shirt deals as well as championships being sponsored by casino operators.

Operators target minors despite warnings

As part of this strategy to take a more proactive approach to gambling ad regulations, ASA recently investigated the accessibility of ads among children. They created avatars to imitate children’s browsing behaviour. The experiment showed that gambling ads were displayed to minors over 150 times, with more than five operators breaking the compliance rules.

This challenge is particularly hard to handle because ASA does not regulate the volume of ads. However, this is undoubtedly one of the things that cause mistrust in online security. The way people play games online is changing, with new risks emerging in online and mobile gambling. The Commission’s ability to ensure the protection of consumers is constrained by factors out of their control. This includes flexible funding and the lack of data on how developments in the industry affect consumers.

ASA calls on Government support

The ASA chairman Lord Currie added that if they decide to use their statutory powers, the way they go through the restriction process must be absolutely meticulous. For now, ASA will rely on the self-regulatory system and industry laws in order to act quickly.

ASA is hoping to receive more support from the Government in terms of gambling rules and regulations. UKGC supported the initiative in many turns, as they discussed digital challenges and safe gambling solutions.

A UKGC spokesperson stated that he is pleased with how their work resulted in safer gambling activities. However, there are a lot of things that need to be done in the future. They have already strengthened security issues including online age and ID verification, customer interaction and plans on credit card gambling ban.

In the future, they expect to see a reduction in the number of people experiencing gambling harm and discomfort. Currently, they are focusing on strategies behind VIP practices, the technology behind segmented targeting and game design improvements.