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What does the law require?

Gambling operators selling into the British market must have a Gambling Commission licence to transact with, and advertise to, British consumers. The Commission’s Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice require operators to comply with the Advertising Codes, administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The Codes aim to ensure that gambling adverts do not:

  • portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.
  • exploit the susceptibilities, aspirations, credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge of children, young persons or other vulnerable persons.
  • suggest that gambling can be a solution to financial concerns.
  • link gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness.
  • be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.
  • feature anyone gambling or playing a significant role in an advert if they are under 25 years old (or appear to be under 25).

Adverts that breach the Codes have to be amended or withdrawn. If serious or repeated breaches occur, the ASA can refer advertisers to the Gambling Commission and broadcasters to Ofcom.

Concerns about advertising

Gambling advertising has increased substantially since the Gambling Act 2005 came into force. This has led to concerns about its impact on children, young people, and vulnerable adults. The relationship between gambling and sport has come under particular scrutiny.

What is the gambling industry doing?

The Betting and Gaming Council represents around 90% of the UK’s betting and gaming industry (excluding lotteries). Its Code of Conduct requires adherence to an Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising.

What is the Government doing? 

The Government has said that the rules on gambling and advertising must be “suited to the digital age”. A Gambling Act Review sought views on, among other things, the impacts of gambling advertising. The Review ran from 8 December 2020 to 31 March 2021 and received approximately 16,000 submissions. The Government has not yet responded, but a white paper is due to be published “in the coming weeks”.


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