UK: Placing Digital Adverts Responsibly – Gambling Commission Launches Consultation on Wording for New Licence Condition

By Sean Godfrey and Verity Young

The UK Gambling Commission has launched a consultation on the specific wording of a new licence condition which places an obligation on licensees to take responsibility for ensuring adverts placed by themselves or others do not appear on websites providing unauthorised access to copyright content.

Although the adverts themselves are not criminal, having gambling adverts appear on such websites is deemed by the Gambling Commission to contribute to funding those websites, and therefore associates gambling with crime. The adverts also frequently appear next to other adverts containing malware or viruses. The Gambling Commission has previously contacted major gambling operators about the issue, but the adverts have continued to appear, hence the need for pro-active measures to be put in place.

The new consultation follows on from a previous consultation in September 2015, the response to which confirmed that a licence condition was the appropriate measure to deal with such adverts.

The consultation will be relevant to licence holders who place digital adverts themselves, or those who use third parties to place adverts. The Gambling Commission has not specified what measures need to be taken by licensees but has offered guidance on what the measures might include:

  • access to and proactive use of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit’s (PIPCU) Infringing Website List (IWL)
  • clear messaging/guidance to affiliates
  • tightening contractual terms and conditions with affiliates to make very clear that adverts must not appear on illegal sites and ensuring robust action can be taken when breaches are found to have occurred
  • proactive monitoring of advert placement through the use of commercial content verification software.

Respondents have been asked for comments on the proposed new wording for the licence condition, which is:

Responsible placement of digital adverts

All licences

  1. Licensees must ensure that they, or third parties [including affiliates] with whom they contract for the provision of any aspect of the Licensee’s business related to the licensed activities, do not place digital advertisements on websites providing unauthorised access to copyrighted content.

The closing date for responses to the consultation is 20 June 2016. Responses can be submitted by email to consultation@gamblingcommission.gov.uk or by using the form provided on the Gambling Commission website.