This week the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has published two new guidance documents in further efforts to ensure responsible gambling advertising. The new standards introduce tougher standards and will be considered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) when addressing complaints.
The guidance on Responsibility and Problem Gambling (which comes into effect on 2 April 2018) is the first of two guidance documents, which aim to address concerns relating to potential harms caused by problem gambling. A second piece on gambling advertising to children and young people is expected later this year.
The second guidance published this week relates to Free Bets and Bonuses (which comes into effect today). It aims to clarify the ASA's position on acceptable claims and signposting terms and significant conditions.
The content of advertising, including claims, imagery and CTAs can impact on consumer decision making and might unduly influence people to behave irresponsibly. Therefore, the purpose of both guidance documents is to supplement the existing rules and help advertisers to better interpret their application.
Guidance on Responsibility and Problem Gambling
An overriding theme of the gambling advertising rules is that it must be socially responsible and protect vulnerable groups, including young people, children and problem gamblers. The guidance covers several areas, including:
Vulnerability – a focus on vulnerable groups and the impact of a campaign on such groups.
Erroneous risk claims – irresponsible perceptions of risk and undue emphasis on the gambler's control has over a bet or gambling.
Pressure to bet – encouraging irresponsible gambling behaviours by creating an "unjustifiable sense of urgency" and pressure to place a bet e.g. "Bet Now".
Trivialisation - trivialising gambling, such as encouraging repetitive gambling, excessive gambling, excessive spending etc.
Promoting behaviours or appeals of gambling – the portrayal of problem gambling.
The guidance also discusses the rules relating to specific problem gambling behaviours and other irresponsible appeals associated with problem gambling (such as, escaping from personal or professional problems such as loneliness and depression; solving financial concerns or providing financial security; increasing sexual success, attractiveness, or suggesting that it is linked to resilience, toughness or recklessness, or enhances personal qualities such as superiority and recognition).
Free bet promotions and bonuses
This separate guidance note helps clarify the position on what promotions are considered as acceptable. For advertisements that promote free bets and bonuses terms and conditions of the offer should be made available to the consumer, at most only one click away and significant terms should be included in the advertisement itself.
Significant terms are considered as those "which are likely to affect a consumer's understanding of the promotion, include any requirements for a consumer to deposit their own funds as well as details of play-through or wagering requirements."
The guidance also includes some example gambling claims and what they should be used to mean.
"Money back" offers MUST be in cash, not bonuses.
"Risk free" offers must incur NO LOSS to the customer.
"Matched bets" – any stake limitation should be treated as a significant condition.
These two guidance documents add to the ASA's concerted efforts in the gambling sector, following previous advice relating to affiliate marketing and its joint letter with the Gambling Commission and the Remote Gambling Association issuing a warning about appealing to under 18s.
Co-authored by Hannah Blake.