CAP and BCAP have published two new sets of guidance on gambling advertisements. The guidance will prevent the use of urgent calls to action, such as “bet now”, and will require “money back” offers to be paid in cash and other significant terms to be prominently displayed within the ad itself.
The first set of guidance comes into effect on 2 April 2018 and aims to ensure that gambling ads are responsible and mitigate potential harms faced by vulnerable persons, in particular problem gamblers, who are likely to be disproportionately impacted by certain marketing approaches.
The guidance provides detail on approaches which are likely to be considered unacceptable by the ASA, including:
- giving misleading portrayals of risk or the extent of a gambler’s control through facilities such as “cash out”;
- using calls to action such as “bet now”, or other approaches, which encourage impulsive gambling or create an unjustified sense of urgency, especially in circumstances where time limits exist naturally (e.g. in in-play betting);
- trivialising gambling and encouraging people to spend more, or bet more frequently, than they otherwise would;
- portraying problem gambling behaviours in marketing communications, such as chasing losses or experiencing highs and lows, or referring to personal problems or financial pressures, even in a light hearted or indirect manner; and
- portraying gambling as a viable alternative to employment, or portraying the rewards of gambling in a manner which is not reasonable or indicative of the rewards that can be obtained through responsible play.
The examples given in the guidance are useful indicators of practices which would likely be considered by the ASA to be a breach of the rules. However, marketers should consider more generally whether the overall tone of the advertisement is likely to exacerbate or promote problem gambling behaviours.
The second set of guidance, which focuses on the offer of free bets or bonuses make clear that significant conditions attached a free bet or bonus, such as deposit or play-through requirements, must always be prominently displayed. In addition, “money back” offers must be paid in cash, not bonuses, and “risk-free” offers must incur no loss to the consumer.
A term or condition will be deemed significant where it “is likely to alter a consumer’s understanding of the promotion”, and include deposit and play-through requirements. If there is ambiguity, marketers should err on the side of caution and treat the term as significant.
Significant T&Cs must be stated within the ad itself, even where advertising space is limited (e.g. in banners or social media). Advertisers are expected to be creative; if the ASA receives a complaint, “it would take a dim view of an advertiser claiming they could not include a significant condition without good reason”. Other non-significant T&Cs should also be no more than ‘one click’ away.
Thinking about vulnerability Most audiences will contain groups that are more vulnerable than others to harm; the guidance focuses strongly on protecting problem gamblers and those at risk because of the evident potential for harm to occur. But it’s not just classifiable groups. We’re all in our way susceptible to appeals to our self-image, our insecurities or concerns in life.