The Gambling Act 2005 came fully into effect on 1 September 2007. Under section 16 of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code, marketers should not exploit the young or vulnerable nor imply gambling can solve financial or personal problems or is indispensable, a rite of passage or linked with sexual success. All gambling ads must comply with the Code and the law. The Gambling Act does not apply outside Great Britain. Specialist legal advice should be sought when considering advertising any gambling products in Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands.
The Gambling (Licensing and advertising) Act 2014 took effect on the 1st November 2014. It contains provisions relating to the licensing of gambling operators advertising or offering remote gambling facilities to consumers in the UK. We urge you to seek legal advice regarding the requirements of the act if you are unsure.
The CAP Code requires that all gambling advertising is socially responsible and advertisers should ensure they respect the need to protect children, young persons and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by advertising that features or promotes gambling (Rule 16.1). Marketing communications should not be directed at those aged below 18 years (or 16 years for lotteries, football pools, equal chance gaming [under a prize gaming permit or at a licensed family entertainment centre], prize gaming [at a non-licensed family entertainment centre or at a travelling fair] or Category D gaming machines) through the selection of media or context in which they appear (Rule 16.3.13). Generally, marcoms should not imply gambling can solve financial or personal problems, is indispensable, is a rite of passage or linked with sexual success (Rule 16.3).
Although the CAP Code does not define what might be considered a ‘vulnerable’ person, we believe the Advertising Standards Authority will interpret that as being someone who is mentally, socially or emotionally immature, those whose judgement is impaired, for example, by alcohol or drug addiction, or those who are at risk of gambling more than they can afford to or want to.
Under the Act, the previous prohibition on offering an incentive, inducement or encouragement to gamble has been lifted. Although the CAP Code does not deal directly incentives and inducements, the Code requires marketers to be socially responsible. Marketers wanting to offer incentives and inducements should have regard to the Social Responsibility Code of Practice Provisions issued by the Gambling Commission; please see here.
Any incentive, inducement or reward must be set out clearly, including significant terms and conditions that apply. Although they will vary depending on the type of gambling and player, inducements and rewards should be proportionate to the amount of money and time spent by the player. They should neither increase at a greater rate if greater amounts of time or money are spent nor encourage players to gamble substantial amounts at regular and fixed frequencies or within a fixed and limited period. They should also be proportionate to the gambling environment. For example, a one-off reward of a free bet after £50 has been wagered could be acceptable provided giving a free bet is not unusual at that level for that type of gambling.
Marketers might want to ask the Gambling Commission or the Gambling Trust’s Public Awareness Taskforce (see www.gambleaware.co.uk) for information about responsible gambling and educational and health warnings.
Under section 14(5) of the Gambling Act, prize competitions that require payment to enter must rely on entrants exercising skill or judgment or displaying knowledge. The competition should reasonably be expected to prevent a “significant proportion” of people from participating or receiving a prize.
The Act no longer requires promoters in Great Britain to offer no-purchase entry routes for instant-win promotions and other promotions involving an allocation of prizes that relies wholly on chance so long as the main entry route does not constitute “payment” as defined by the Act. Marketers should seek legal advice about the legality of their promotions. See Help Note on Promotions with Prizes.
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.
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.