A new agreement between the RGA and its sector equivalents is expected to see betting operators agree to end all pre-watershed live-game television commercials.
A meeting of five leading gambling trade associations this week is anticipated to formalise an agreement that will self- enforce a “whistle-to-whistle” ban on all betting commercials during pre-watershed live sports fixtures.
The plan, an apparent effort to address public concern regarding the exposure of children to betting advertisements, has been tabled by online trade body the Remote Gaming Association, and enjoys industry-wide support from BACTA, the National Casino Forum, the Association of British Bookmakers and the Bingo Association.
It sees online giants such as Ladbrokes, Bet365 and William Hill jointly ascent to refrain from all TV advertising during any and all sports entertainment (excluding horse racing) commencing prior to 9pm.
If adopted, the measure will put the industry in line with the Labour Party’s proposals as to industry advertising – a fact that it’s deputy leader Tom Watson said was indicative of the trade“taking its responsibilities seriously and listening.”
There have been growing calls within Westminster for a curb of in-game betting ads, after one report by the Guardian found that UK viewers had been subjected to approximately 90 minutes of gambling marketing during the broadcast of this summer’s 2018 Fifa World Cup. It is as yet unclear how costly the new policy will prove to online betting operators, but it is thought that the fallout for broadcasters (principally Sky) could top somewhere in the region of £200m.
That the remote trade should elect to clip its own wings in this manner may be indicative of the RGA fearing legislative action should it fail to do so, given high-pro- file bad press for the ABB in its long-fought (and ultimately unsuccessful) resistance to FOBT stake reduction.
Indeed, in his analysis of the cross-sector accord, Ernest &Young’s betting and gaming director Grant Humphrey argued that the move represented “the strongest signal yet that there is a serious commitment to tackle the negative sentiment the sector is facing.”
“Most in the industry recognise that the advertising saturation had become too much but it’s the smaller bookies that rely on advertising for brand presence that will feel this the most,” he added.
Still, Humphrey argued that the placatory step might still be “the thin end of the wedge,” citing the future potential for a blanket ban on all TV ads, regardless of the time of day.
For its part, GambleAware said that it “welcomed” the new advertising standard, but drew focus on industry marketing efforts heavily favouring the digital sphere.
“It is important to pay attention to analysis that shows the marketing spend online is five times the amount spent on television,” said its chief executive Marc Etches.“The fact that it is reported one in eight 11 to 16 year olds are following gambling companies on social media is very concerning.”