Betting and Gaming Council suspend TV and radio ads during COVID-19 crisis

All gambling ads pulled from UK screens and airwaves for minimum of 6 weeks

Members of the UK's Betting and Gaming Council have agreed to voluntary pull all advertising which promotes gambling on TV and radio during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

It's expected that the suspension will last for at least six weeks with all of the vacant advertising slots replaced by safer gambling messages.

This move comes after the Government wrote to major gambling operators asking for regular updates on how they plan on curbing problem gambling during the current lockdown measures.

Despite a drop in advertising spend, the amount of advertisements on television and overall gambling revenue, a handful of operators have reported a notable rise in the amount of time players have been spending on casino games such as slots since mid-March.

Who are the Betting and Gaming Council?

The Betting and Gaming Council were formed in the Summer of 2019 in order to help give a voice to the UK gambling industry as a whole, they have worked closely with the Gambling Commission over the last 9 months in attempt to help curb problem gambling. One major move made by the newly formed council includes the recent decision to age restrict VIP schemes and slow down spins.  

The creation of the Betting and Gaming Council Testing Lab later is also penciled in for later on in the year. This new lab will closely examine game features and how they can impact players.

The Betting and Gaming Council has over 30 members and currently makes up around 90% of the UK's betting and gaming industry, however the group doesn't extend to lotteries such as the National Lottery, People's Postcode Lottery and the Health Lottery. As a result the Council have urged these organisations to follow suit and pull their advertising. 

When does the advertising ban begin?  

Operators will have until May 7th to implement the changes needed to get their advertisements pulled from TV and radio. 

This voluntary change will apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week and relaxing the measures will only be seriously reviewed once government lockdown restrictions are eased across the United Kingdom.

“We are determined to do everything we can to protect customers"

Speaking on the ban, Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council Michael Dugher said: “From day one of this crisis we have sought to protect customers potentially at risk, including announcing stepping up safer gambling measures as part of our ten pledges for COVID-19 in March.

“This latest move by the regulated industry further underlines our commitment to safer betting and gaming with many people cut off and feeling anxious.

“We have been working closely with our member companies since this crisis began to monitor the impact of betting and gaming. There hasn’t been an explosion in people betting online as some had predicted – in fact, the opposite is true with total revenue down by up to 60 per cent.

“Overall gambling levels have also fallen significantly as a result of betting shops and casinos closing and the suspension of live sport. And whilst advertising levels on sports and casino are also down, again contrary to some assertions, we recognise that removing product advertising will act as a further safeguard during COVID-19.

“This major announcement by our members will result in the removal of half of all product advertising on TV and radio. I hope now that other major gambling operators like the National Lottery follow our lead.

“Throughout this crisis, as the new standards body, the BGC has worked very closely with the Government. Ministers and the regulator all deserve credit for their steadfast and consistent determination to have an evidence-led approach and to rightly call for higher standards.

“There will always been alarmist noises from anti-gambling prohibitionists who just want to grab headlines, but it is this serious, constructive and evidence-led approach by the BGC’s regulated members that has resulted in this further major change.

“We are determined to do everything we can to protect customers potentially at risk during this lockdown period and beyond – and we are determined to drive the high standards that the public expect from us. I hope others follow our lead.”