ASA urges for tougher regulations after compliance failings

Kosta Kostadinov | Published 19 May 2022, 10:55 a.m.

Compliance is an essential part when it comes to online gambling, as well as the gambling industry in general. It’s crucial that providers be compliant and carry out their operations in accordance with the rules and regulations of the market. As of late, a lot of effort is put into regulating the UK market as best as possible, so many stricter regulations were introduced as well.

Last week, we informed you about the ASA’s research, which was focused on estimating young people’s exposure to age-restricted ads. The findings were compared to those from a decade ago and it was determined that the exposure has considerably decreased. However, that doesn’t mean that complaints and cases haven’t been received.

ASA received a record number of complaints

According to the annual report for 2021, the Advertising Standards Authority received a total of 43,325 complaints, in regards to 22,115 cases, which is a record so far. The complaints are concerning online and TV advertisements, where online ads saw a slightly higher number of complaints and cases. 

There have been a total of 20,735 complaints about online ads, as well as 14,558 cases. As for TV ads, on the other hand, the total number of complaints is 20,425, while the number of cases is slightly lower than before, at 4,802 in total.

ASA’s research showed that exposure to TV ads is considerably lowered, which means that online advertisements seem to be the biggest issue right now. Online ads seem to be more difficult to control and monitor since they include company websites, social media, paid-for ads, apps, video on demand, and more.

Cherie Leung, a Regulatory Policy Executive, at the Committee of Advertising Practices (CAP) has stated “The data shows that children’s exposure to TV ads for alcohol has fallen at a faster rate than their exposure to all TV ads. However, their exposure to TV ads for gambling has not, although it has declined since the 2013 peak and remained at a lower level.” 

Stricter rules regarding gambling ads

Because of this, starting October 1st, the ASA has decided to introduce stricter regulations regarding gambling ads, and the fact that they must not be appealing to young people. It is stated that these ads must not “be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.”

Another thing that will be prohibited is the use of imagery and or characters that would be notably more appealing to young people. These include movies, reality TV personas, video games etc. A much more sophisticated AI will be implemented to carry out these “strong appeal tests”, which is expected to bring the necessary change.

Compliance rules enforced in the Danish market

A similar situation was seen in the Danish market, where the Danish Gambling Authority has conducted around 4,000 compliance checks between 2019 and 2021. Out of all of these, around 250 of them were reported to the police and have opened criminal cases. 

Looking at the bigger picture, it would seem that in normal conditions, more than 1,000 compliance checks are conducted on a yearly basis. In 2021 for example, there were 1,511 such checks and only around 106 had to be rechecked again.

According to the authorities, if there are cases where young people under 18 are seen at these gambling places, if they offer games that are not permitted, or if the machines are not manned, then it is important to report that to the police.


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