In a submission to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the advertising regulator in the UK has noted that the normalisation of gambling came as a consequence of the 2005 Gambling Act and could have been predicted.
Submitting its written opinion to the DCMS as part of the consultation on the 2005 Gambling Act, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has explained that the piece of legislation’s duty was to depict gambling advertising that makes potentially dangerous or irresponsible gambling behaviour as normal to the wider public.
Within the submission, the ASA, along with its partners – the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice and the Committee of Advertising Practice – shared their concern that gambling has become a normal everyday activity as a result of increased promotion over the last few years. The organisations also noted that gambling is widely considered as a legitimate type of entertainment that is still subject to a strict licensing and regulatory regime.
The response took into account the changes made by the ASA while monitoring the standards in gambling advertising since 2005 after the UK Government liberalised its gambling market and allowed licensed companies to promote their products freely on different channels, including TV and other high-coverage mediums.
Separate Standards Kept for Gambling Advertising Practices, ASA Says
Since 2005 when the country’s Gambling Act officially came into effect, the advertising codes of the UK have kept separate standards for the marketing practices used across the sector. Under these codes, advertising materials are required not to be harmful, offensive or misleading to the general public.
Furthermore, the advertising codes regulating gambling advertising standards have been designed in a way to make sure that children, young audiences or vulnerable adults are not exploited by gambling adverts. In its submission to the DCMS, the Advertising Standards Authority stated that, for the time being, it has not found any evidence of harm inflicted to the public as a result of gambling advertising so that any volume restrictions must be made as an adequate response of the problem.
Furthermore, the ASA shared that it would continue to examine and review the advertising codes on gambling in the UK as the new advertising platforms constantly evolve and consumer habits change in time, too. Unfortunately, despite all the standards operators are required to comply with, the advertising regulatory body and its partners said that gambling had been turning into a “normalised activity”. In addition, under the existing rules, the ASA and its partners have only limited powers on controlling the gambling advertising volume beyond the restrictions regarding scheduling and media placements.
Mirroring some age-restricted products and services, such as alcohol and e-cigarettes, the ASA said that gambling has been promoted in a way that made it look normal to consumers, to a point when it looks like an unremarkable feature of the current British society’s everyday life. The regulator, however, explained that it could not make commentary on the concern shared by some parties regarding sponsorship deals as a widely used practice to promote their services unless the gambling company uses the sponsorship agreement for wider advertising purposes.