The Gambling (Licensing and advertising) Act 2014 took effect on 1 November 2014. It contains provisions relating to the licensing of gambling operators advertising or offering remote gambling facilities to consumers in the UK. Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) urge you to seek legal advice regarding the requirements of the act if you are unsure.
Marketing communications for gambling products must not include a child or young person. When considering the age of those who you wish to feature in a marketing communication for a gambling product there are three key things to know: under 25s may not be featured in the majority of gambling ads, there are limited, specific circumstances where it may be acceptable to feature under 25s in marketing communications online however, featuring under 25s in marketing communications on social media is unlikely to be acceptable.
Under 25s cannot be used in the majority of gambling ads
The CAP Code states that no one who is, or seems to be, under the age of 25 should be featured gambling or playing a significant role in an ad for a gambling product (rule 16.3.14). For example, a press ad featured Luiz Suarez wearing a football shirt, and stated “MONEY-BACK IF SUAREZ SCORES. LIVERPOOL V MAN UTD. IF SUAREZ SCORES WE’LL REFUND LOSING BETS”. A complaint was received that Luiz Suarez was 24 years old at the time the ad appeared and the advertiser was told not to feature Suarez or other sportspeople under the age of 25 (Paddy Power Plc, 4 January 2012). In another ruling, a tweet which featured a child jumping in the air while holding a golf club and ball was found to breach the CAP Code because it featured a child (WHG (International Ltd) t/a WillHillBet, 17 June 2015).
Under 25s can appear in some online gambling ads
Following a consultation, in 2013 CAP relaxed rule 16.3.14 insofar as it applied to websites or similar media where a bet can be placed directly. Rule 16.3.14 now states: “Marketing communications must not include a child or a young person. No-one who is, or seems to be under-25 years old may be featured gambling. No-one may behave in an adolescent, juvenile or loutish way. Individuals who are, or seem to be under 25 years old (18-24 years old) may be featured playing a significant role only in marketing communications that appear in a place where a bet can be placed directly through a transactional facility, for instance, a gambling operator’s own website. The individual may only be used to illustrate specific betting selections where that individual is the subject of the bet offered. The image or other depiction used must show them in the context of the bet and not in a gambling context.”
The wording of the rule effectively means that marketers offering a bet through a medium where that bet can be placed directly (e.g. on a gambling operator’s own website) can feature individuals under the age of 25, but only when that individual is the subject of the bet being offered.
Under 25s are unlikely to be acceptable in gambling ads on social media
In October 2015, the ASA ruled that three separate tweets, by different gambling operators, all of which featured an image of the golfer Jordan Spieth, breached the Code by featuring someone under the age of 25. All three of the tweets appeared on the gambling operators’ own Twitter feeds and featured a photo of the golfer Jordan Spieth either playing golf or holding a trophy.
The ASA ruled that, because the tweets featured Jordan Spieth, who was under the age of 25, playing a significant role and they had not appeared in a place, such as on their own website, where a bet could be placed directly through a transactional facility, the tweets breached the Code (Coral Interactive (Gibraltar) Ltd, Hillside (UK Sports) LP t/a Bet365, Petfre (Gibraltar) Ltd t/a Totesport, 28 October 2015).
Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA. CAP’s Advice Online entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.
See also “Betting and gaming: General”
How can we help!
We are aware that sometimes whether something is of particular appeal to under-18s can be nuanced – therefore, marketers are welcome to get a view from our Copy Advice team which provides pre-publication advice on advertising at any stage.