Advertising in the gambling industry has always been a fast-changing space, with many regulations and guidelines being implemented over the years companies such Easyslots who offer many casino offers have had to adapt their strategies. After a number of policies were made stricter in 2017, many gambling operators saw themselves facing hefty fines.
And it’s about to get even tougher with advertising rules for the industry becoming even stricter in 2018. Read on to find out a little more about what took place in 2017, and how it’s continuing to evolve this year.
Many Changes Were Made to Gambling Advertising Regulations in 2017
In 2017, many online operators in the gambling world went through a tough year. A number of the major players in this field had to pay large fines for some of the advertising they put out there. Their advertising content was deemed misleading by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), which is the local regulatory authority for the sector.
One of the industry leaders, BGO, had to fork out a hefty fine of £300,000. Several others also had to pay penalty fines of varying amounts for their failure in adhering to the strict advertising regulations set by the UKGC.
Last year, larger well-known companies such as Sky Bet and Ladbrokes were also fined big amounts by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which is the main advertising regulator in the UK working across many sectors. The ASA fined them based on the view that their advertising was targeted at customers who may be more vulnerable and tempted to gamble.
They felt that the adverts were misleading such customers to believe that gambling was an easy way to obtain lots of money. After these fines, Ladbrokes and Sky Bet decided to reconsider their number of partner affiliates. Ladbrokes reduced the number considerably while Sky Bet decided to end them completely.
Later on in the year, the ASA, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), and the Gambling Commission all challenged gambling operators with local licenses for creating advertising content that was aimed at minors. It was too easy for minors to access their marketing content, and these operators were told to remove such content from their sites. By the end of 2017, the rules around advertising in this sector were made even tighter by local regulatory authorities.
Further Changes Are Expected From the UKGC in 2018
When it comes to protecting gambling customers and removing misleading or otherwise faulty advertising content, the UKGC have made it clear that they will continue to be strict on operators in 2018. And they didn’t wait long to do so. In February of this year, the UKGC and the ASA worked together to introduce tougher guidelines for advertisers in the gambling sector to follow. The primary aim of the new guidelines was to ensure that any advertising wasn’t focussed on targeting those who may be more vulnerable to and tempted to gamble compulsively.
All types of adverts, including promotional ads and online ads were to be developed to adhere to these regulations and checked against these new standards. Operators have to be especially careful around those adverts that offer incentives to customers to gamble using their services, as these can be too tempting for those with even a slight gambling addiction to resist.
The new regulations also clear state that certain phrases shouldn’t be used within any marketing content by online betting operators. These phrases include such call to actions as ‘Bet Now’, which are often used by operators to try and convince their customers to place bets while live sports events are playing. Any advertising content which urges customers to place repetitive bets is also strictly not allowed. Basically, any messaging which could lead vulnerable customers to feeling tempted to place bets when they shouldn’t is banned.
Many gambling operators will try and tempt customers into placing bets by offering bonuses that are ‘risk free’. This can be deemed to be highly misleading as they are not in fact risk free at all. Players who take up these offers are definitely taking a risk with their money, as they have to place a deposit to get these ‘free’ bonuses. All this was usually stated in the terms and conditions section in the past, but many customers don’t often read through the lengthy T&Cs of an advert.
The days of seeing such messaging in gambling adverts is over now, as the UKGC have made it clear within their new guidelines that the fact that they aren’t risk free needs to be stated clearly in the advert itself rather than hidden in the T&Cs. This will enable customers to be fully informed of the risks before making a decision on whether they want to go ahead and avail the offer.
Within the new standards, it is also stated that gambling cannot be marketed as a quick and easy way of making money.
Those Operators Not Adhering to 2018 Regulations Will Risk Facing Hefty Fines
Gambling and betting operators have been given until April to improve their policies to protect customers and remove any advertising content that doesn’t follow the new regulations. Any operators who decide not to comply will be penalised with hefty fines.
One of the biggest names in the UK betting space, William Hill, has been heavily penalised by the UKGC this year for not complying with their regulations. They had to pay a staggering £6.2 million to the UKGC in February. They were charged with failure to prevent money laundering and fraud, as they profited from customers who had deposited large amounts of illegal funds with them over the last couple of years.
With all the constant changes in the guidelines for gambling advertising content, operators in this field are advised to keep a close eye on them before developing and putting out any new ad campaigns. The financial risks of not complying with the latest guidelines are too severe, as is evident by all the fines that have been issued to major players in this sector over the last few years.