Don’t take a gamble with the Codes: CAP and BCAP’s revised guidance on responsibility and problem gambling

Nov 11th '21

Changes to Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) responsibility and problem gambling guidance announced in August came into effect on 1 November.


The updated guidance was developed as part of the consultation process responding to the findings of the GambleAware research published in 2020. It adds to already extensive protections in the Codes to ensure that gambling advertising does not encourage or condone risky or irresponsible behaviour.


There is already extensive guidance (see guidance section 4.2) restricting the use of ad content that might give rise to erroneous perceptions of risk and control among the audience. It’s commonly accepted in the evidence that people should avoid making decisions to participate in gambling when their expectations of the risks involved might lead them to make unwise choices.


New guidance, drawing on insights from the GambleAware research, now restricts ads that:


  • Present complex bets or other gambling products in a way that emphasises the skill, knowledge or intelligence involved and could therefore lead to erroneous perceptions of risk or control– Offers for gambling products that include multiple elements (for example, urging consumers to make multiple selections or take several steps to participate in an offer) should not be promoted with undue emphasis on an individual’s skill, knowledge or intelligence. For instance, by placing undue emphasis on how these attributes might lead someone to make a particular selection or choose a more complex product over a straight-forward one. Depictions of someone using such products or generally participating are unlikely to be problematic.
  • Present gambling as a way to be part of a community based on skill– This focuses on messaging that suggests participating can make someone part of a wider community based on this attribute. It does not restrict the use of other general messaging relating to communities (social motives for gambling are acknowledged to be associated with lower risk than, for instance, gambling for financial gain) or to the benefits of joining a particular operator’s service like features that allow people to socialise with other players, either in person or virtually.
  • State or imply that offers (such as those involving money back, ‘free’ bets or bonuses, or enhanced odds) are a way to reduce risk– This focuses on messaging playing down losing a bet or the level of risk involved; for instance, stating or implying that a bet or offer is low risk, that the outcome and/or decision to bet does not matter, that individuals can make higher risk selections or that individuals are secure because of a feature of an offer, like money being refunded for a losing bet. This builds on existing guidance in the same section cautioning against the implication that an activity or offer is without risk. It is not intended to prohibit particular offer mechanics; the focus is on how they are presented in ads.


The changes to the guidance also add to the guidance on Immediacy and Urgency (see section 4.3), Trivialisation (see section 4.4) and Financial concerns (section 6.2). See CAP and BCAP’s Regulatory Statement for more details of the changes.


Source: CAP


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