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UK bans gambling ads featuring celebrities, sports stars, influencers to control underage problem gambling


Under new, tougher rules from UK’s Advertising Standards Authority, gambling advertisements in Britain featuring celebrities, sports people and social media influencers popular with the under-18s will be banned to protect children in one of the world’s largest betting markets, effective October 1, 2022. 

The new measure was taken Tuesday by the regulator, with the aim of “safeguarding young people and vulnerable audiences”. These rules will impact gambling advertisers looking to promote their brands using sports people and celebrities as well as individuals like social media influencers. 

The Committee of Advertising Practice, which writes the advertising codes that are regulated by the ASA, said gambling and lottery ads must not “be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture”. 

The new rules will “significantly restrict the imagery and references that gambling ads will be allowed to use and should decrease the potential for gambling ads to attract the attention of under-18s in the audience”. 

We’ve announced tough new rules which significantly restrict the imagery and references gambling ads are allowed to use.

The rules aim to safeguard young and vulnerable people by decreasing the potential for gambling ads to attract their attention:

— ASA (@ASA_UK) April 5, 2022

The organization cited a number of examples of those elements that will be banned from gambling advertising campaigns, which include:

  • Topflight footballers and footballers with a considerable following among under-18s on social media

  • All sportspeople well known to under-18s, including sportspeople with a considerable volume of under-18 followers on social media

  • References to video game content and gameplay popular with under-18s

  • Stars from reality shows popular with under-18s

One of the main examples of these sorts of advertisements is footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, who has worked with PokerStars to promote the brand since 2015. Former Chelsea manager José Mourinho has also appeared in ads for Paddy Power in 2019 when he was managing Tottenham Hotspur. 

Some UK companies including Entain and 888 have made billions of dollars in profits over the past few years as online betting levels surged with the COVID-19 outbreak. This, according to a review by Public Health England published in 2021, resulted in a growing concern regarding problem gambling and how it should be considered a public health issue. 

This is not the first measure taken to control problem gambling. The government has been tightening the rules in recent years, with actions such as capping on the maximum stake on terminals, having stricter age and identity checks for online gambling and providing more support for addicts.

In an official statement released by the Committee of Advertising Practice, Director Shahriar Coupal said: “The days of gambling ads featuring sports stars, video game imagery and other content of strong appeal to under-18s are numbered. By ending these practices, our new rules invite a new era for gambling ads, more particular to the adult audience they can target and more befitting of the age-restricted product they’re promoting”.

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