The legal framework for gambling in Great Britain, including the requirements for licensing operators, is set out in the Gambling Act 2005 (as amended).
The Gambling Act 2005 does not apply outside Great Britain. Licensees should ensure that specialist legal advice is sought when considering advertising any gambling product or service in Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands.
Spread betting may be advertised as an investment activity under the Financial Services and Markets Act (FSMA) 2000, the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Financial Promotion) Order 2005 (as amended) and in accordance with the FCA Handbook. Spread betting may be advertised on specialised financial stations or channels, in specialised financial programming or on interactive or additional television services (including text services) only (see rule 14.5.4). A “spread bet” is a contract for differences that is a gaming contract, as defined in the glossary to the FCA Handbook.
These rules are not intended to inhibit advertisements to counter problem gambling that are responsible and unlikely to promote a brand or type of gambling.
Please refer to Section 32: Scheduling for rules on the scheduling of gambling advertisements.
Clearcast checks to ensure that advertisers are licensed by the Gambling Commission. Gambling advertising is currently subject to a voluntary agreement not to be scheduled before 2100hrs; this excludes sports betting advertising appearing in live sporting events.
The rules in this section are designed to ensure that gambling advertisements are socially responsible, with particular regard to the need to protect under-18s and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by advertising that features or promotes gambling.
The term “gambling” means gaming and betting, as defined in the Gambling Act 2005, and spread betting. For rules on lottery advertisements, see Section 18.
The rules in this section apply to advertisements for “play for money” gambling products and advertisements for “play for free” gambling products that offer the chance to win a prize or that explicitly or implicitly direct the consumer to a “play for money” gambling product, whether on-shore or off-shore.
Unless they portray or refer to gambling, this section does not apply to advertisements for non-gambling leisure events or facilities, for example, hotels, cinemas, bowling alleys or ice rinks, that are in the same complex as, but separate from, gambling events or facilities.
BCAP and CAP have produced a joint guidance note on gambling advertising, found here.
17.1 Radio Central Copy Clearance – Radio broadcasters must ensure that advertisements for gambling are centrally cleared.
17.2 Advertisements for events or facilities that can be accessed only by entering gambling premises must make that condition clear.
Rules for all advertisements
17.3 Advertisements must not:
- 17.3.1 portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm
Advertisements can show excitement associated with gambling but should not exaggerate that excitement. The ASA has ruled on this topic:
- 17.3.2 suggest that gambling can provide an escape from personal, professional or educational problems such as loneliness or depression
- 17.3.3 suggest that gambling can be a solution to financial concerns, an alternative to employment or a way to achieve financial security
The ASA has ruled on this topic:
- 17.3.4 portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life; for example, over family, friends or professional or educational commitments
- 17.3.5 suggest peer pressure to gamble or disparage abstention
The ASA has ruled on this issue. See a sample ruling here:
- 17.3.6 suggest that gambling can enhance personal qualities; for example, that it can improve self-image or self-esteem, or is a way to gain control, superiority, recognition or admiration
The ASA has ruled on this issued. Example rulings can be found here:
- 17.3.7 link gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness
Mild flirtation is acceptable but gambling must not appear as an accessory to sexual success. The ASA has ruled on this issue. Sample rulings can be found here:
- 17.3.8 portray gambling in a context of toughness or link it to resilience or recklessness
The ASA has ruled on this topic. Sample rulings can be found here:
- 17.3.9 suggest gambling is a rite of passage
- 17.3.10 suggest that solitary gambling is preferable to social gambling.
This does not preclude gambling alone on a laptop.
Rules for gambling advertisements
17.4 Advertisements for gambling must not:
- 17.4.1 exploit cultural beliefs or traditions about gambling or luck
- 17.4.2 condone or encourage criminal or anti-social behaviour
- 17.4.3 condone or feature gambling in a working environment (an exception exists for licensed gambling premises)
- 17.4.4 exploit the susceptibilities, aspirations, credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge of under-18s or other vulnerable persons
- 17.4.5 be likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture
Advertisements should not use visuals or music that are likely to appeal to children. Youth culture might include skateboarding, graffiti, breakdancing, superheroes or featuring top flight sports celebrities. Care should be taken with animation to ensure it is not appealing to children.
The ASA has ruled on these issues. Sample ruling can be found here:
- 17.4.6 feature anyone who is, or seems to be, under 25 years old gambling or playing a significant role. No-one may behave in an adolescent, juvenile or loutish way.
The ASA has ruled on this issue. The ruling can be found here:
17.5 Advertisements for family entertainment centres, travelling fairs, horse racecourses and dog racetracks, and for non-gambling leisure facilities that incidentally refer to separate gambling facilities as part of a list of facilities on, for example, a cruise ship, may include under-18s provided they are accompanied by an adult and are socialising responsibly in areas that the Gambling Act 2005 does not restrict by age.