The UK Committees of Advertising (CAP) are alive and well and fully operational even during a time of a nation stuck at home. And in many respects, its exactly this that has now caused the advertising watchdog to turn its attention full-on to the gambling and betting industries, of which eSports obviously forms a bigger part than ever before. CAP recently published an Advice Note to all Great Britain-licensed gambling operators offering bets on competitive video gaming, or eSports, which Advice Note is to govern how relating to eSports on specifically social media are to be approached.
The directive is the first of its kind ever issued by CAP (i.e. relating to eSports) and is the obvious result following the heightened awareness created by GambleAware’s 2019 report on the effects of gambling and betting in advertising on especially younger audiences. And, needless to say, CAP’s timing could not have been more opportune. With the majority of major sports events called off indefinitely, it stands to perfect reason that eSports betting is the new go-to bet for sports lovers world-wide. The increased popularity unfortunately also brings along with it the risk of increased harm resulting from advertising that is ignorant of safe and responsible gambling-advertising practices.
There’s No Space For Confusion
CAP’s core message remains that of communications geared specifically at marketing being specifically and clearly identifiable as exactly that. The issued Advice Note works from this standpoint up, issuing the following recommendations and guidelines so as to ensure that all remain well within the limits of what the law allows:
- Whenever eSports betting information (of any nature, whatsoever) appears on a gambling and/or betting operator’s own social media account, the assumption is generally there that the content relates to information for marketing and promotional purposes. The same “given” however, does not apply to a situation where the same information appears on the social media account belonging to a third party. Third party accounts generally refer to brand ambassadors, affiliate’s accounts and social media accounts belonging to or administered by social media influencers). Whenever any third-party account becomes involved, then it becomes necessary to ad a clear and obvious “identifier” top that particular content. The recommendation made in this regard is making use of, for example, “#ad” at the beginning of the social media post or message in question.
- Those posts that can be identified as linking through an advertisement, even though the link is at the time clearly understood as being a link, should also clearly state by way of the same identifier that the post relates somehow to marketing and promotional content and material.
Guidelines Focused On eSports
The CAP code clearly recognises that in as far as eSports are concerned, there exists an increased risk that children may become exposed to betting, since video games are enjoyed by people of all ages. Additional caution is therefore mandatory so as to ensure that underaged players are not exposed to any content that promotes gambling and/or betting.
Particular guidelines issued in this regard are:
- In the event that gambling marketing content is in any way “searchable” on a social media platform, and relies on specific terminology likely to appeal to children, whilst at the same time failing to protect younger audiences from being able to view those ads, then this course of conduct will most likely be regarded as illegal.
- No content making any reference to gambling and/or betting should be embedded within the advertisement or even the link itself, unless the poster thereof can prove without any shadow of a doubt or exception that no person under the age of 18 can view the content in question.
- No ad containing any reference to gambling and/or betting may feature content likely to appeal to children. An example of this would be cartoon-style images and images featuring references to well-known fairy tales. Influencers who generally appeal to younger audiences are off-limits too.
Lastly, ads must not depict any person under the age of 25 engaged in any act of gambling or betting.