BGC Tightens Measures to Combat Underage Exposure to Online Gambling Ads

  • Industry body published its Sixth Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising 
  • New measures include rules on targeting 18+ age groups, inclusion of safer gambling messages
  • The new code comes into effect on October 1, 2020
  • The BGC wants to continue combating black-market operators to protect customers
  • UK efforts include a TV gambling ad ban, safer gambling messages in 20% of all radio and TV ads
child using a laptop and holding a pencil in one hand
The Betting and Gaming Council has published its sixth code as it looks to ramp up efforts to promote socially responsible advertising among operators. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

New code to protect minors

The UK Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has released “tough new measures” to help protect underage individuals from exposure to gambling ads online. The publication of the Sixth Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising is the council’s latest move to improve standards in the country’s gaming and betting sectors.

The association tweeted out the news on August 27:

The newly announced measures require BGC members to make sure that all of their paid for or sponsored social media ads are targeting people who are at least 25 years old. The only exception is if the given website is able to show that it can precisely target those who are at least 18 years old. 

precisely target those who are at least 18

Another new requirement from the industry body is that all gambling ads that show up on search engines need to have a clear label that they are targeting people aged 18 or older. They also need to contain safe gambling messages.

In order to view a gambling ad on YouTube, a user must have an age-verified account. BGC members will also need to frequently post responsible gambling messages on Twitter. 

The new code comes into effect on October 1, 2020. 

A zero-tolerance attitude

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher spoke about the industry code, saying: “The latest edition is further evidence of our determination to continue to ensure that standards are rising and are as high as they can possibly be.” He added that the council has a zero-tolerance attitude to underage gambling, and that the new code reflects how seriously the association takes its responsibilities.

battle black-market operators

Dugher called on the UK government to continue working with the BGC to battle black-market operators who are not protective of their customers, do not promote safer gambling, and are not meeting the same standards of responsible practices as BGC members.

With a review of the UK Gambling Act underway and an Online Harms Bill imminent, Dugher said he looks forward to working alongside the country’s government to continue improving standards in the sector.

Other recent measures

The UK has recently implemented other measures to help promote responsible gambling. These include a whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling ads being shown on television during live sporting events, plus new ID and age verification checks.

UK authorities have significantly increased the amount of funding going towards gambling education, research, and treatment. There is also a rule in place that 20% of all radio and television ads from gambling operators have to comprise a safer gambling message. 

The issue of under-18s seeing gambling ads online is one that requires constant attention. On August 26, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) released its findings after monitoring online age-restricted ads over a three-month period. It discovered that, of the 159 ads that were violating age restriction rules, 70 were from gambling operators. The ASA has contacted the offending advertisers and taken action to remove the ads in question.