Major UK Gambling Operators Stop Radio, TV Ads During COVID-19 Lockdown

  • Betting and Gaming Council members voluntarily halting gambling ads during lockdown
  • UK-based operators to start adhering to restrictions by latest May 7 until at least June 5
  • BGC says members' online gambling revenues dropped 30% since coronavirus outbreak
  • CEO Michael Dugher called on National Lottery to enact similar measures on its ads output
blonde woman wearing face mask puts up hand gesturing a stop sign
The UK’s biggest gambling operators are voluntarily stopping advertising via television and radio during the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A voluntary move

The leading gambling operators in the UK market have agreed to “voluntarily remove all TV and radio gaming advertising during the COVID-19 lockdown.” The decision was announced by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) on behalf of its members on Monday.

The aim is to have these measures in place by latest May 7. They will remain in effect until June 5 at the earliest, when there will be a reassessment of the situation. Advertising slots that were paid upfront will now be replaced by safe gambling messages, given to charities, or completely removed if the contract allows. 

A tough period

According to the BGC, its members have seen their online gambling revenues drop by 30% since the outbreak of COVID-19. Overall revenues are down by as much as 60%, with retail betting areas closed since mid-March. 

overall revenues are down by as much as 60%

In the announcement, BGC CEO Michael Dugher said he hoped that Camelot, the National Lottery operator, would take a similar step with its advertising efforts. He also spoke out against those who were saying that online gambling operators were exploiting people during the pandemic for financial gain. 

Notable members of the BGC include the likes of William Hill, GVC Holdings, Flutter Entertainment, and Bet365. A few days ago, the Gamesys gambling brand and BGC member spoke about limiting its radio and television advertising until social restrictions surrounding COVID-19 are eased.

Authorities keeping a close eye

The UK authorities have also reiterated numerous times the importance of protecting online gamblers during these times. With the lack of sporting events taking place across the world, sports betting has dried up. As a result, many gamblers have transferred their focus to the more addictive online casino games. 

decision to halt gambling ads marks the “the beginning of a new era”

The director of the NHS Trust’s National Problem Gambling Clinic, Henrietta Bowden-Jones, said the operators’ voluntary decision to halt gambling ads marks the “the beginning of a new era.” She believes the restrictions are an acknowledgement that such types of advertising are “potentially harmful to many”. She went on to question why online ads were not included as part of this voluntary suspension.