This page explains current and future advertising restrictions.
The current position
The advertising of gambling is principally regulated by the relevant provisions of the following legislation:
- Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963;
- Gaming Act 1968; and
- Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976.
The Betting and Gaming Duties Act 1981 (section 9) also contains a provision restricting the availability of advertisements in the UK from overseas based bookmakers.
Gambling Commission Guidance – Casino Advertising
The Gambling Commission, which has now replaced the Gaming Board of Great Britain as the statutory regulatory body for gaming in this country, has issued the following advertising guidance for casino operators:
In addition to the legislative provisions, there are advertising codes regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), an independent body set up by the advertising industry. The codes are created, revised and enforced by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), a self-regulatory body whose members include organisations that represent the advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing and media businesses.
Organisations agree to comply with the advertising codes either through their membership of CAP, or through contractual agreements with media publishers and carriers. The effect is that marketing communications are legal, decent and honest and consumer confidence is maintained. There are ASA/CAP codes for betting and gaming.
Since 1 November 2004, the ASA/CAP, which until that point had the authority for non-broadcast media, also assumed powers in respect of TV and radio advertisements, under contract from the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the communications regulator. Consequently, CAP (Broadcast) was established, in addition to CAP (Non-broadcast).
ASA/CAP Advertising Codes and Guidance
You may wish to view the following ASA/CAP gambling related documents:
Non-broadcast (print, posters, cinema, sales promotion)
Broadcast (radio, television, interactive and text services)
Sponsorship of television programmes remains the direct responsibility of Ofcom (this body replaced the Independent Television Commission (ITC) at the end of 2003). You may wish to view the following Ofcom gambling sponsorship related document:
Premium Rate Telephone Services
The Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS) is the regulatory body for all premium rate charged telecommunications services. You may wish to view the following ICTIS gambling advertising related document:
The future position
The Gambling Act 2005
The Government has recently passed the Gambling Act 2005 which introduces a new regulatory system for governing gambling in Great Britain. This system includes new provisions for regulating the advertising of gambling products. These provisions of the Act are not expected to come into effect until September 2007.
Part 16 of the Gambling Act covers advertising and the promotion of gambling. This introduces a new, broader definition of advertising which covers anything which is done to encourage the use of gambling facilities, including entering into arrangements such as sponsorship or brand-sharing agreements.
Under the provisions of this new legislation (which repeals existing gambling legislation), the Secretary of State will have the power to make regulations controlling the form, content, timing and location of advertisements for gambling, including requirements for specified words to be included in advertisements.
These regulations will apply to both 'non-remote' (such as a poster or magazine) and 'remote' (such as email or internet) advertising.
There are restrictions on the extent to which the regulations (specified above) may control broadcast advertising. Notably, prohibiting the regulations from making provisions about TV or radio advertising covered by the Communications Act 2003.
There is, however, a duty upon Ofcom to set, review and revise broadcast advertising standards, which must reflect the provisions of the advertising regulations, and to consult the Gambling Commission accordingly.
Advertising of Unlawful Gambling
It will be an offence to advertise unlawful gambling. For these purposes, advertised gambling will be unlawful if it requires a licence, notice, permit, or registration under the Act, or an exception to an offence under the Act, and, at the time of advertising:
- the arrangements for obtaining the relevant authorisation has not been completed; and
- the exception to an offence does not apply.
However, where a person commits an offence by encouraging gambling through unlawful advertising, he will have a defence if he can demonstrate that he reasonably believed the advertising to be lawful. People who commit the offence by participating in or facilitating such an activity will only commit the offence if they know or ought to have known the gambling to be unlawful.
There is also an exemption from the offence for people who advertise gambling merely because they deliver, transmit, broadcast or make data available in the course of business, without having any editorial control over the nature or the content of the material.
Advertising of Foreign Gambling
It will be an offence to advertise in the UK, gambling which physically takes place in a non-European Economic Area (EEA), or in the case of gambling by remote means, gambling which is not regulated by the gambling laws of an EEA state. However, for the purposes of this offence, Gibraltar is treated as though it were an EEA state and therefore gambling operators based in Gibraltar will be able to advertise their services in the UK.
In addition, the Secretary of State may specify countries or places that are outside of the EEA, to be treated as though they are EEA states for the purpose of the offence. To do so, a jurisdiction will need to demonstrate that its gambling regulatory regime meets comparable standards to those exercised in Great Britain. A list of approved countries will be published in due course.
The Act clarifies the application of the advertising provisions where the advertising is by non-remote means (section 332) and remote means (section 333).
The following document sets out the criteria to be applied in respect of Section 331 (4) of the Gambling Act 2005 - the powers for the Secretary of State to specify a country or place to be treated as if it were an EEA State: 'White Listing' Criteria PDF [190kb].
The future role of the ASA, Ofcom and ICSTIS
The ASA is expected to continue its present role, working in partnership with the Gambling Commission to develop and enforce a code of practice on gambling advertising in Great Britain. Ofcom and ICSTIS will also continue to exercise their current responsibilities with regard to gambling advertising, working within the scope of any regulations or guidance issued by the Gambling Commission.