BGC unveils new online advertising code

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has unveiled the Sixth Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising, which is designed to protect minors from seeing online gambling ads.

Operators will need to adhere to a number of measures, especially when it comes to promoting themselves on social media.

The new code will be effective from 1st October and apply to all BGC members.

What’s included? 

Through this new code, operators creating paid or sponsored ads on social media will need to exclusively target users aged 25 and above. The only exception to this is if they can prove that their ads can be targeted towards over-18s and nobody else.

On Twitter, all BGC members will also have to post regular responsible gambling messages on their pages.

Operators placing ads in search engines will need to make it clear that their messages are only intended for players aged 18 or above. Moreover, each ad will need to include a responsible gambling message.

On YouTube, users will have to use age-verified accounts before they are able to see gambling-related advertising.

The whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling ads during sporting events on TV will remain in place. 20% of ads on this form of media, will need to be dedicated to safer gambling too. In addition to responsible gambling messages, they can also include “cooling off periods on gaming machines, encouraging deposit limits, new ID and age verification checks and massively increasing funding for research, education and treatment”.

“We have made excellent progress in recent times” 

The unveiling of the new BGC code comes not long after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found a handful of UK operators to be targeting their ads on sites popular with minors.

BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher had the following to say about the new code, which will come into force from 1st October.

“As the new standards body for the regulated sector, we are committed to driving up standards within the betting and gaming industry.

“We have made excellent progress in recent times and the Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising is updated as technology evolves. The latest edition is further evidence of our determination to continue to ensure that standards are rising and are as high as they can possibly be.

“BGC members have a zero tolerance attitude to under-18s betting, and from requirements for safer gambling messages to restrictions on YouTube advertising, this new code shows how seriously the BGC, who represent regulated betting but not the National Lottery, take our responsibilities.

“At the same time, we urge the Government to work with us to crack down on black market operators who have no interest in safer gambling or protecting their customers and do not work to the same responsible standards as BGC members.

“It is vital that the big internet platforms honour their responsibilities to protect people online and we hope the Government will use its forthcoming Online Harms Bill to that effect. The Review of the Gambling Act will also provide further opportunities to improve standards and we look forward to working with the Government on this.”