UK Regulator Tightens Advertising Policy Further in 2018March 5, 2018 1:32 pm
Last year, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) clamped down on gambling companies operating in the UK, issuing heavy penalties for those flaunting the regulators’ procedures and rules. BGO, for instance, was fined £300,000 for misleading advertising, while Ladbrokes, Sky Bet, and Casumo all received hefty slaps on the wrists for their targeting of vulnerable customers.
By the end of 2017, a further tightening of policy was instigated after the regulators ordered gambling operators to desist from advertising in a way that might appeal to people under the age of 18, and are therefore ineligible to legally gamble in the country.
Moreover, the Gambling Commission shows no signs of slowing down in 2018 with tougher advertising standards having already been introduced in February designed to protect compulsive gamblers from being targeted by online gambling operators. This includes online based betting firms not being able to promote gambling as a way of making money; using the phrase “Bet Now” during live sporting events; or promoting Risk Free” bonuses which first require a player to deposit money in order to receive the free funds.
As a result, gambling companies now have until April to remove any advertising materials that violates the new set of standards, or else face heavy fines.
Meanwhile, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been investigating the unfair withdrawal policies being practiced by some gambling firms operating with UK licenses which make it harder for customers to cash out their money. This includes setting low withdrawal limits for the day, week or month, and confiscating the funds of accounts that are deemed inactive after a discretionary period of time.
Finally, the way in which stereotyping is used to promote gambling products has also come under scrutiny by the UKGC, with one aspect related to the manner in which scantily dressed women have been used to attract more customers. One such example is provided by the use of provocatively dressed female employees to promote their company’s products at trade shows, such as ICE Totally Gaming, with the UK’s regulator warning that gambling products should be promoted in a non-offensive fashion.