Sky TV To Restrict Gambling Adverts From Next Year

Spokesman says the move is to ensure that television remains a “safe space”

Sky TV’s chief executive for UK and Ireland, Stephen van Rooyen, gave the UK marketing media plenty to talk about over the weekend by revealing that the company proposes to limit the amount of gambling advertisements during its programs, and is considering ad-blocking technology to protect the vulnerable against gambling inducements.

Sky TV recently sold off all but 20 percent of its interest in Sky Betting and Gaming, which is now owned by The Stars Group.

Van Rooyen revealed a plan that will see the network accept fewer gambling ads from the first half of 2019, introducing a cap of a single gambling advert per commercial break to reduce the impact of the material on addicts.

The company hopes to have the restrictions in place by the start of the 2019-2020 Premier League football season.

The network executive said that Sky viewers and advertisers were concerned at the volume of gambling advertising, and that the network understands this.

“That’s why we’ve committed to limiting the amount of gambling ads on Sky and better protecting those vulnerable to problem gambling,” he said. “Thanks to regulation TV has long been a safe space, and these changes will make it even safer.”

In a more general assertion, Van Rooyen suggested that internet gambling constitutes a “real danger online” and will continue to do so until online platforms are regulated as tightly as television. Whether he is aware of the controls imposed by the UK Gambling Commission or not is not clear.

Ad-blocking technology may also be on the cards at Sky TV, according to van Rooyen; who revealed that Sky viewers will be able to block all gambling ads across the network channels from June 2020 thanks to the introduction of new blocking technology that selects relevant creative for viewers.

Sky worked with the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute to understand the effect gambling advertising had on Sky viewers. Research found that those who are vulnerable to problem gambling, and those with mental health issues, were more likely to be influenced by these ads.

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute recommended that the broadcaster made it easier to opt out of ads from the sector. The group’s director, Helen Undy, said:

“This is a really welcome step from Sky to empower customers who struggle with gambling by enabling them to opt out of gambling ads, and will no doubt be popular among other people too. It adds to the momentum across industries to tackle problem gambling.”