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How TV gambling ads are changing in the UK

There’s been a lot of talk about the number of gambling adverts on UK TV within the past few years. Many feel there are too many advertisements for casinos, betting, bingo, and poker throughout the day – particularly during sporting events. But anyone who has seen a gambling ad on TV in the UK recently may well have noticed a few changes.

It seems the industry as a whole has taken a few of these complaints on board. That can be seen within the latest adverts which have adjusted their tone and theme. Let’s take a look at how gambling adverts on TV have changed in the UK and will continue to do so in future.

Focus on responsible gambling

The promotion of responsible gambling in the UK is very important. More ads are now shown that focus on the safety of players and how to take a healthy attitude towards betting.

For instance, BeGambleAware made a successful Tap Out advert that focussed on knowing when to stop. Playing on the double meaning of “tap out”, the ad shows a wrestler fighting with a punter – convincing them to tap out and stop betting as they don’t really know anything about football in Ukraine. The tagline “avoid bet regret” is now lodged firmly in many TV viewers’ minds.

But BeGambleAware is a responsible gambling organisation. So it’s to be expected that an advert of theirs would focus on this.

The most significant change is coming from the gambling companies themselves. Previously, they used their air time to promote the general excitement of playing and betting. Nowadays, they are focussing a lot more on safety measures – like encouraging players to set limits on how much they deposit and to monitor how much time they spend playing. The Betting and Gaming Council, which represents many major UK operators, has stated that it’s members ensure that at least 20% of their TV ads promote safer gambling.

This is a major step in the right direction.

Removing tricky terms and conditions

When casinos and sites do focus on themselves, some of them are starting to point out features that make things fairer for players. One example is the removal of harsh terms and conditions that have plagued casino bonuses for many years.

Previously, a casino would simply highlight the bonus that new players could get when signing up. It would usually involve extravagant numbers. But the chance of actually cashing anything out was very slim. So it all felt like a bit of a trick.

But after realising just how much players hate unfair terms, some companies have started removing them. For example, you can now get casino offers with no wagering. This basically means anything you win from these offers is paid as real cash with no tricks. It’s these kinds of actual player benefits that are now being advertised on TV. Unlike the generic or unrealistic expectations of before.

No more gambling TV adverts in future?

While these changes to UK gambling advertisements have definitely been a welcome improvement, there are still plenty of calls for them to be removed completely from TV. These calls appear to be supported by the UK public with nearly two-thirds of adults supporting a complete ban on gambling adverts, according the The Guardian.

While a potential outright ban is possible, it’s perhaps unlikely at this time due to recent comments from the UK government. During a parliamentary discussion in March 2020, Nigel Huddleston – the UK government’s Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport – said that “the ability to advertise is a key advantage that licensed [gambling] operators have over the black market”.

He went on to say that if advertising was removed then it could threaten the safety of the industry as a whole.

So what’s the most likely scenario?

It’s almost certain that restrictions will become tougher. A ban on pre-watershed ads is a strong possibility. This would change things quite considerably with no betting adverts being shown when most football matches or other sports start – unless exemptions were granted specifically for these events.

It’s also highly likely that an advert’s content will be under even more scrutiny in future to ensure it meets ethical standards. In that respect, many gambling companies are already on the right path due to the shift in focus towards responsible play and fairer terms.

This meet-in-the-middle scenario – not an outright ban but tougher restrictions – is the most likely outcome.

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