Why Governments Ban Gambling Advertising & Are There Any Other Options?

Recently, Premier League clubs have collectively agreed to remove gambling advertising from the front of their shirts. Beginning in 2021, Eastern European countries and the CIS increasingly implement various gambling advertising bans.

SBC CIS attempted to comprehend why this is occurring, how destructive gambling advertising can truly be, and what operators should take to avoid harsh regulations.

Ad ban – states’ perspective

The arguments of states seeking to prohibit or limit gambling advertising essentially always boil down to the following primary theses: 

  • Protection of vulnerable individuals: One of the primary reasons for restricting gambling ads is to protect vulnerable individuals, particularly minors and those with gambling-related problems. Excessive exposure to gambling ads can normalize gambling behavior, create a false perception of winning probabilities, and contribute to the development or exacerbation of gambling addiction.
  • Public health concerns: Gambling addiction is recognized as a public health issue, and restricting gambling ads is seen as a preventive measure to reduce the potential harms associated with gambling. By limiting the promotion of gambling services, countries aim to minimize the prevalence of problem gambling, which can lead to financial difficulties, mental health problems, and social consequences.
  • Ethical concerns: There are ethical considerations associated with gambling advertising, particularly when it comes to vulnerable populations. Countries may restrict gambling ads to uphold societal values, protect individuals from potential exploitation, and prevent the normalization of gambling as an essential part of daily life.

Ad Restrictions

The year 2022 saw a significant increase in limitations on gambling advertising across the territory of Eastern Europe and the CIS. 

Similar limitations have been proposed in the Netherlands, Slovakia, Belgium, and other European countries over the last year. By the way, in Belgium, a ban on all forms of gambling advertising/marketing will be applied across all media platforms from 1 July. 

Gambling advertising began to be restricted in major championships. Thus, ITV stated to ban gambling advertisements during its coverage of Euro 2020.

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) also called on social media to take new measures and strengthen collaboration to reduce the visibility of gambling advertising to young people and at-risk groups on social media platforms.

What are the options?

In reality, no one questions whether gambling advertising should be controlled and legal. Representatives from the industry are focused on newer means of defending against the negative implications of excessive advertising.

For example, according to the most recent survey by Ipsos Group, an international research firm, consumers are generally upset with the volume of adverts, which is not good for operators even from a marketing standpoint.

“When we did some social intelligence work to gain some insight into what people were saying about these types of ads, we found that people were annoyed with the frequency of ads. Those consumers not understanding what brand each advert was from contributed to that annoyance because it just seemed like a string of the same ads all at once,” said Ted Doering, Senior Vice President at Ipsos. 

When releasing gambling advertisements, it is also critical to consider the relevancy and promotion of responsible gambling messages. Instead of emphasizing the benefits and incentives of gambling, it is important to encourage responsible gambling behavior, provide information about the risks, promote self-exclusion programs, and direct individuals to support services for problem gambling.

This approach was handled in the UK in April of this year. Instead of completely banning gambling ads, gambling companies have been called for more action on targeting, promotions, data use, and responsible gaming messages.

Anton Kuchukhidze, head of the Ukrainian Gambling Council, also talks about the right messages and another problem of gambling advertising: “Gambling advertisements should not transmit the impression that it is simple to win or that gambling may be a source of revenue or an alternative to earning money. However, to be honest, not all operators adhere to these guidelines.

“If a gambling operator begins to go crazy with advertising (which is unacceptable), he essentially puts the entire market in danger. Mistrust hangs over the entire sector and all gambling companies.”

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