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UK: CAP amends gambling advertising regulations

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), who write and maintain the advertising codes in the UK that are administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), have published the outcome of a consultation to amend the Gambling section of the CAP Code.  From Tuesday 17 September 2013, betting websites regulated by the Gambling Commission will be permitted to use individuals under the age of 25 in marketing communications if they are the subject of a bet being offered provided that the depiction shows the individual in the context of the bet being offered and not in a manner that promotes gambling.  Kokyee Ng (DLA Piper, London) comments on CAP’s amendment to rule 16.3.14 of the CAP Code.

Following a period of public consultation in response to the Gambling industry’s concerns over the impact of CAP’s Online Remit Extension (ORE), which extended the ASA’s remit to regulate marketing communications on advertisers’ own websites and other non-paid-for space online under their control, CAP have decided to amend rule 16.3.14 of the Code to allow marketers to feature individuals under the age of 25 on betting websites where they illustrate the bet being offered e.g. a footballer to score first in a match.  Prior to the consultation, rule 16.3.14 prohibited individuals who are or appear to be under 25 from appearing in marketing communications for gambling products.  This prevented operators from using images of sportsmen and women who are or appeared to be under 25 to illustrate a bet offered on sports betting websites where they were the subject of a bet.

As part of the consultation, CAP received submissions from interested parties both for and against the proposal including but not limited to the Advertising Association, Gambling Commission, Betfair, and Gambling Watch UK.  However, CAP was satisfied that the amend, which is narrow in scope, simply restores the position that existed prior to the ORE on 1 March 2011, which permitted the use of individuals under the age of 25 provided they were the subject of a bet being offered and were depicted in the context of the bet being offered, and not in a manner that promotes gambling or the gambling operator.  Accordingly, CAP are of the view that the change is very unlikely to result in harm to children or young people. 

The existing CAP Code rule 16.3.14 is therefore amended as follows:

Marketing communications must not:

[…] include a child or a young person. No-one who is, or seems to be, under-25 years old may be featured gambling or playing a significant role.  No-one may behave in an adolescent, juvenile or loutish way.

Individuals who are, or seem to be under 25 years old (18-24 years old) may be featured playing a significant role only in marketing communications that appear in a place where a bet can be placed directly through a transactional facility, for instance, a gambling operator’s own website. The individual may only be used to illustrate specific betting selections where that individual is the subject of the bet offered. The image or other depiction used must show them in the context of the bet and not in a gambling context.”

CAP’s decision can be found here.