New Policy To Ban Celebrity Gambling Ads

October 22, 2020

- Grant Whittington

Sports personalities and celebrities may soon be off-limits to the makers of gambling and sports betting ads. New advertising rules focused on a crack-down on the marketing of sports-related gambling products to persons under the age of majority are expected to largely curtail the inclusion of household-name personalities in ads targeting local audiences.

Examples of recent gambling ads set to become unlawful under the provisions of new laws being pushed for by the UK’s code for advertising control body include ads featuring the likes and personalities of Michael Owen, Harry Redknapp, and José Mourinho. Ads featuring big-name sports personalities and celebrity superstars have proved exceptionally popular with viewers of all ages – being of course a dynamic assumed to stand central to the problem. 

What To Expect Of The New Rules

Current advertising rules justify the banning of only those ads considered likely to specifically target persons under the age of 18 – or in other words, content more likely to find traction with or appeal to under-age persons than adults. The new rules now set to be implemented direct the banning of any add even marginally appealing to children, irrespective of whether or not that add appeals to adult persons also.

So great is the overall impact of the latest set of regulations about to be implemented expected to be, that not even reality TV stars such as those featured on Love Island will be permitted to appear in advertisements featuring gambling and betting content. Social media influencers too, will be completely off-limits.

Select concessions will however apply, for example major bookmaker Bet365’s ads featuring Ray Winstone. Since Winstone is regarded a celebrity not likely to appeal to children or younger viewers, those particular ads will not be banned or even affected by the latest new rules and regulations. Concessions such as this one will however be far and between.

GambleAware The Catalyst

The latest new advertising rules about to be implemented are the largely the result of the outcome of a public consultation launched by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP). And as for CAP’s own motion, recent research mandated by GambleAware has been named as the propelling force.

According to CAP, the outcomes and findings of the research ordained by GambleAware clearly indicate the influencing impact of creative gambling advertising content on a juvenile audience – and much bigger and more intense an impact than what is currently being taken account or provided for by the country’s current advertising code.

That several campaigning groups would much rather prefer an outright ban on all ads featuring gambling content is no state secret. Notwithstanding the public push, said CAP, its findings in terms of research evidence does not justify a complete and outright ban.

An Overbearing Public Push

A preferred and possibly more balanced approach would be the keeping in place of the voluntary whistle-to-whistle ban introduced last summer. Said ban allowed a voluntary ban on the airing of betting and gambling adverts during sports programmes. The voluntary ban too, was instituted following increasing pressure to protect under-age persons and children from being exposed to gambling content in an excessive or over-indulgent manner.

It has since become apparent that anti-gambling activists are not sufficiently appeased by the current restrictions and limitations. With many pushing hard for a complete ban, introducing stricter advertising policies was practically all the country’s advertising authorities could do to balance the scales of public opinion.

CAP has in the meantime said it regards the so-called 25 per cent test to be more than sufficient as well as appropriate to the perceived dilemma.

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