ASA and CAP Tighten the Screws on Gambling Advertising

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) announced new standards to restrict the use of language and tactics meant to trivialise gambling, lower the perception of risk or create a sense of urgency.

The Gambling Commission’s new strategy to focus on consumers has led to tougher standards on advertising, and more specifically on the appeal of certain messages to problem gamblers. According to Ian Angus, Gambling Commission Programme director, gambling companies should advertise more responsibly to make sure that ads do not turn regular punters into problem gamblers. This includes not using advertising tactics that can pressure consumers into making harmful decisions. 

The Key Points

The new rules, published by the CAP and enforced by the ASA, state that operators must:

  • not promote offers that form a sense of urgency such as "Bet now!"
  • not encourage repetitive play
  • stop using tactics that promote an irresponsible attitude of the control or risk such as “Risk-Free Deposit Bonuses”
  • provide more details on problem gambling behaviours
  • prevent excessive emphasis on the financial motive for gambling
  • work to protect problem gamblers and provide more information on vulnerable consumers

Readjusting Period

As customary with new rules and regulations, a period of uncertainty can be expected. On the one hand, operators’ marketing strategies and assets can be produced months in advance. On the other hand, some contexts can also make the new standards harder to apply compared to others. 

For instance, using phrases such as “Bet now” may create a sense of urgency, yet at the same time the Gambling Commission published its official position in 2016 regarding in-play betting, saying it does not consider that “someone who bets in-play is automatically at increased risk of harm from gambling”. 

Free Casino Bonuses and Bets

When advertising an offer, important conditions must be displayed with an offer. Any other conditions must be no more than one click away. ASA will penalise any company that fails to play by these rules.

What can be considered "important conditions"? It includes any information required to understand the promotion properly, such as eligibility, restricted odds, withdrawal, deposit, and wagering requirements.

The new standards also dictate that "money back" offers cannot be paid in bonuses. Cash only!

Seeking Guidance

Questions will undoubtedly arise as operators try to interpret and apply the new standards.  For more information on the matter, the CAP also issued a guide for advertisers on free bets and bonuses, which can be found the ASA’s website.

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