UK Cap Institutes Tough New Measures On Gambling Advertising

By Brian Cullingworth, Last updated Feb 16, 2018

New standards on gambling advertising to come into effect from April 2, 2018

The UK Advertising Standards Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) has published a set of new standards on gambling advertising focused on advertising’s appeal to problem gamblers and on free bets and bonuses.

The new standards on problem gambling, comprise:

– Restrictions on advertising that create an inappropriate sense of urgency like those including “Bet Now!” offers during live events;

– Curb trivialisation of gambling (e.g. encouraging repetitive play);

– Prevent approaches that give an irresponsible perception of the risk or control (e.g. “Risk Free Deposit Bonus”);

– Provide greater detail on problem gambling behaviours and associated behaviours that should not be portrayed, even indirectly;

– Prevent undue emphasis on money-motives for gambling; and

– Provide more detail on vulnerable groups like problem gamblers that marketers need to work to protect.

The CAP advisory emphasises that evidence reviewed in developing the guidance suggests that advertising does not play a casual or even significant role in problem gambling or harm in general and that problem gambling rates have in fact remained relatively stable during a period of considerable growth in adverting volumes.

However, CAP said “Although the overall impact is small, the evidence points to potential risk factors in the form of claims, imagery or approaches that might unduly influence people to behave irresponsibly.

“That’s why CAP is setting tougher standards to tackle any potential for harm. Ads must not play on individuals’ susceptibilities (financial concerns, self-esteem) or contain anything that might exploit vulnerable groups such as those with problem gambling issues,” the media advisory reads.

The new standards will come into effect on 2 April 2018 and will be used by the ASA when considering future complaints about ads.

Concerning Free Bets and Bonuses, new standards include educating advertisers on acceptable claims in ads and how terms and conditions should be accessible and understandable to the consumer.

Key advertising tenets include the prominent display of significant terms and conditions in an advertised offer and to ensure the consumers understanding of any promotional offer.

“The majority of complaints to the ASA about terms and conditions in gambling ads are about the requirement for consumers to make a deposit to access their “free bets/bonus” or the number of times they must then wager their “free bet” and deposit money before they are allowed to withdraw any winnings,” CAP said.

The standards also clarify that “money back” offers must be in cash and not bonuses; “risk free” offers must incur no loss to the consumer; and when it comes to “matched bets”, any stake limitation should be treated as a significant condition and stated upfront.

The free bets and bonuses standards come into effect today (Wednesday, April 14, 2018).

Director of the Committees of Advertising Practice, Shahriar Coupal, said:

“We won’t tolerate gambling ads that exploit people’s vulnerabilities or play fast and loose with eye-catching free bet and bonus offers. Our new guidance takes account of the best available evidence to strengthen the protections already in place, ensuring that gambling is presented responsibly, minimising the potential for harm.”

The full updated guidance standards can be read here:


Brian Cullingworth

Infopowa news was a staple of Casinomeister’s news from 2000 until 2019. Brian Cullingworth was the main writer, contributor, and was one of the most knowledgeable persons I have ever known involved in the online casino industry.

We first met in January 2001 at the ICE in London where I observed him going booth to booth interviewing online casino, software, and licensing jurisdiction representatives. Brian was also heavily involved with our forum as “Jetset“, he was involved as an informal consultant to eCOGRA, the OPA, and was a player advocate who assisted countless aggrieved players with his connections to industry folks. He also published “Casino Cautions” via Infopowa news for quite a number of years. These can be found in our news archives.

His passing in February 2019 was a dark day for us. He will be forever missed.

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