BGC Announces Enhanced Advertising Guidelines for Digital Media

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has introduced new measures aimed at minimizing the exposure of digital media advertisements to individuals below the age of 18.

Representing the UK’s regulated igaming industry, the BGC has detailed these changes in the upcoming Seventh Industry Code for Socially Responsible Advertising (IGRG code). The modifications include the expansion of the existing commitment to allocate 20% of TV and radio advertising for safer gambling messaging, ensuring it now covers digital media advertising as well.

Historically, regulations mandated that sponsored or paid social media advertisements should primarily target individuals aged 25 and above. Exceptions were made if the platform could guarantee precise targeting for users above 18 years. The recent update proposes to apply this 25+ age rule to all digital media platforms equipped with a reliable age filter.

This revised code is scheduled to be implemented from 1 December 2023, reflecting BGC’s ongoing efforts to elevate standards within the igaming sector.

Other previously instituted measures comprise the restriction of TV gambling advertisements during live sporting events, the introduction of cooling-off intervals for gaming machines, encouragement for setting deposit limits, and the establishment of new ID and age verification procedures. These were complemented by considerable investment in research, education, and treatment initiatives related to responsible gambling.

In addition, a BGC code was established prohibiting football clubs from promoting betting odds and sites directly on their popular social media accounts.

To further curb the digital exposure of betting and gaming advertisements, the BGC, spearheaded by its Chief Executive Michael Dugher, has collaborated with social media platforms to introduce an opt-out feature for users. This effort was highlighted in a correspondence with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), emphasizing the need for these platforms to bolster their efforts. In response, DCMS Minister Stuart Andrew MP has committed to facilitating a meeting aimed at fostering change.

BGC’s emphasis on safeguarding minors from betting is underscored by the Gambling Commission’s 2022 report titled ‘Young People and Gambling’. The report indicates that predominant betting activities among young individuals include arcade games and informal bets among peers.

In formulating these updated guidelines, BGC collaborated closely with Bacta, the Bingo Association, and the Lotteries Council, emphasizing a unified industry approach.

Currently, approximately 22.5 million UK adults engage in betting monthly. The regulated igaming industry in the UK contributes £7.1bn to the national economy in terms of Gross Value Added (GVA) and generates taxes amounting to £4.2bn. This sector also sustains 110,000 jobs nationwide.

Furthermore, the 2022 ‘GC Young People and Gambling Report’ notes a significant decrease in gambling participation among children (aged 11-16) since 2011, dropping from 23% to 7% in 2022.

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC, said: “As the standards body for the regulated sector, we are committed to continuing to drive up standards and make big changes across the betting and gaming industry. Helping protect young people is our number one priority.

“BGC Members have already taken significant steps to ensure adverts by our members only reach the right audiences. With more help from the platforms, we can do even more.

“Safer gambling messaging is also absolutely crucial. It is about ensuring that customers use safer gambling tools like setting deposits limits and time outs, but also it is about the vitally important work of signposting the help that is out there to help the minority of gamblers who might be struggling with their betting and gaming.

”The new edition of the IGRG Code is further evidence of our determination to continue to ensure that standards are rising and are as high as they can possibly be”.

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