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 suggest that gambling can provide an escape from personal or professional problems, nor portray it as a solution to financial concerns, an alternative to employment or a way to achieve financial security. 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 contains provisions relating to the licensing of gambling operators advertising or offering remote gambling facilities to consumers in the UK. CAP urge you to seek legal advice regarding the requirements of the act if you are unsure.
In 2008, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) considered an ad that stated “BET TO FORGET” and featured a photograph of the footballer Eric Cantona, who seemed to be dressed as a knight. The advertiser said the ad was meant to be interpreted as a light-hearted reference to England not qualifying for the Euro 2008 Championship. The advertiser also said Eric Cantona was dressed as King Arthur as the website linked through to various King Eric films, including one where he pronounces “… Europe kicked you out of the Euro, who cares? BET to be king … BET to forget …”. The ASA believed the link between “BET TO FORGET” and England’s failure to qualify was unclear and considered that the claim was likely to be interpreted, especially by vulnerable people, as suggesting that gambling could provide an escape from personal problems (Partouche Betting Ltd, October 2008).
In February 2009, the ASA considered complaints about an ad, for a football-betting service, that stated “Beating the city boys at their own game” and showed a group of men holding a football, laughing and clenching their fists in celebration. Text stated “Returned 13.56% last season … with inflation eating away at savings. Property marketing in crisis. Stock market suffering … Why not try an alternative method. Log onto www.requestabet.com …”. The ASA considered the ad presented gambling as an alternative form of investment and was misleading and irresponsible (Sohi Capital Partners ltd, February 2009).
An ad featured a woman describing how she was a single mum and lived on benefits. She then went on to talk about winning £46.799 and how this would allow her to help her son “build a better future”. The ASA noted that the ad contained a testimonial from a potentially vulnerable individual from a low income group stating how gambling had provided a solution to being unable to provide for her child’s future. The ASA upheld complaints on the grounds that the ad exploited the susceptibilities of vulnerable persons, suggested gambling was a solution to financial worries and encouraged gambling behaviour that could lead to financial and emotional harm (Prime Online Ltd t/a PrimeScratchCards.com, January 2010).
An online promotion for Sing Bingo was headed “DEBT FREE 2011!” It stated “How do you fancy having your bills paid in 2011? Sing is prepared to do just that for one lucky player in our new 2011 Debt Free Heaven promo … No more stress, no more worries and no more running away from the morning postman!” The ASA received and upheld a complaint on the basis that the ad encouraged people to gamble to become “debt free” and therefore portrayed gambling as a solution to financial concerns (Cassava Enterprises (Gibraltar) Ltd t/a Sing Bingo, March 2011).
An ad for a company selling information about a betting system stated “Profits Of £109,148.69 Or More Every Month” and “I had to find something that worked … FAST… or I’d have to find a “real job”. The ASA investigated the ad on the basis that it implied betting could be an alternative to employment and found that it breached the Code (Betting Scalper, June 2011).
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”
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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.