Casinos, betting shops and online gambling sites will be able to advertise on television under new rules announced today.
Gambling operators will have more scope to advertise in the broadcast media under changes coming into force in September as part of the Gambling Act 2005.
But the commercials must comply with a code which aims to ensure they are ‘socially responsible’.
This means the adverts must not imply gambling can be a solution to financial problems.
However the Salvation Army said it remained ‘deeply concerned’ at the introduction of gambling advertising.
The adverts must not be of particular appeal to children and young people. And as with alcohol commercials, gambling adverts must not link the activity to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness.
They must not show gambling which is irresponsible or could lead to ‘financial, social or emotional harm’.
Gambling adverts cannot suggest the activity is a rite of passage nor that it can improve self-image or self-esteem.
The rules were drawn up by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP).
They will be policed by the Advertising Standards Authority which will investigate any reported breaches of the new code.
Advertisers who break the new rules may be referred to the Gambling Commission or the broadcast regulator Ofcom who will impose sanctions.
CAP and BCAP Secretary Roger Wisbey said the more relaxed approach to gambling adverts was coupled with a ‘stringent framework’ of rules.
‘These changes to gambling regulation mark a significant milestone in the way betting and gaming can be advertised in the UK,’ he said.
‘Of paramount importance is making sure that the advertising gambling restrictions provide a high level of consumer protection.’
The new rules also lift a ban on radio adverts for betting and gaming – including bookmakers, betting companies and gaming machines.
They set out scheduling restrictions which ban radio and TV adverts for gambling in and around programmes aimed at under 18s.
Salvation Army public affairs unit spokesman Captain Matt Spencer said: ‘Adverts are designed to stimulate demand and, as gambling advertising increases, our fear is that more people will be drawn into an addiction which can be devastating for individuals, families and the communities in which they live.
‘Advertising may also have the effect of further ‘normalising’ gambling in our culture, but gambling should not be considered a normal ‘leisure’ activity since it can be highly addictive and damaging.
‘The effects of increased gambling advertising need to be closely monitored to assess its impact on gambling trends and any associated potential rise in problem gambling.’
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